Beverly Keel

Although Alan Jackson let us know that it's all right to be little bitty, he was recognized as a giant in country music at the Ryman Auditorium on Thursday during a CMT show featuring George Strait, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Lee Ann Womack, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert.

"It's an honor to be honored," said Alan, the king of humility and understatement. "It's very nice, a little bit overwhelming, sort of.
"It's kind of like your birthday. You light the candles and everybody is staring at you for a minute, so it can be a little disconcerting. But it's a real tribute and a real nice honor."

The 90-minute special, CMT Giants: Alan Jackson, will air Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. Alan is only the third country artist to be feted with a Giants special, following Reba McEntire and Hank Williams Jr. Hank appeared as a presenter, as did George Jones and Alan's wife, Denise, a best-selling author.

"He is one of my favorite country singers of all time — the timbre of his voice and the way he knows how to sing a country song. It's so natural for him," Martina said. "He's amazing."

George sang "Where were You (When the World Stopped Turning)", and he joined Alan and Brad on Alan's current single, "Country Boy." Taylor sang "Drive," Alan joined Brad on "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" and Alan performed "Remember When" and "Chattahoochee" solo.

Martina delivered "When Somebody Loves You" and Lee Ann and Miranda paired up for "Gone Country."

"I appreciate Alan so much because he, of course, has kept the tradition of country alive and he does it so well that he's one of the artists I hold up as an example of what I'd like to be," Lee Ann said.

Added Miranda, "The songs that he's written have been such timeless songs, and that is hard to do. You can write or record a song for the time, but Alan Jackson's songs are going to be 50 years from now sounding like they could be on the radio. The songs that were out 20 years ago can still be played today."

Earlier this year, just a few months before Alan's 50th birthday, he was honored for achieving the milestone of 50 million albums sold.

"Occasionally Denise and I talk about how we can't believe all that's happened," Alan said. "Our history goes back to when we were children basically and we know where we came from and what all we went through to get here. It's a fairy tale and it doesn't seem possible that all of this has happened."



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