It was another great night to be at the Grand Ole Opry, though everyone that graced the stage knew it was a somber day in the country music world.
A number of different heartfelt messages were shared by artists performing in the historic circle, from Treaty Oak Revival dedicating their song “Ode To Bourbon” to Toby during their Opry debut, to famous country songwriter Don Schlitz simply lifting up a red solo cup during his performance.
As the lineup officially kicked off, the Opry shared a message as a photo of Toby Keith took center stage:
“Toby Keith came to play this stage many times. We loved when he would come to see us.
Most recently, he was here when he visited the Opry House to to accept the first ever People’s Choice Country Icon Award. Toby’s career spanned 30 years, (featured) 40 million albums sold, (and had) 20 number one hits.
His music will live on forever, and tonight, we’re remembering his many friends and family. Thank you for the music Toby.”
Even with the cloud of Toby Keith’s passing hanging over, the world-famous home of country music made sure to shine brightly in honor of the artist who was so boldly and unapologetically himself.
And one of the best moments of the night in honor of Toby Keith was when Grand Ole Opry member Darius Rucker stepped into the circle.
For his second song of the night, Rucker opted to go outside of his own catalog…and no, it wasn’t a Hootie and the Blowfish song (though he did later play “Hold My Hand” to a raucous Opry crowd).
Rucker first took a moment out of his set list to speak about the loss of a fellow country artist that meant so much to so many, saying:
“We woke up to some sad news this morning. Country music lost Toby Keith, and I wanted to do something special for Toby tonight. It’s one of his songs, my favorite Toby Keith song. So this goes out to Toby. R.I.P.”
Darius then proceeded to play a touching rendition of “God Love Her,” a song that Keith released as a part of his 2008 album That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy. It was Toby’s 18th number one hit on the Billboard Country charts, and it was great way to pay tribute to him at the Grand Ole Opry:
@whiskeyriff Darius Rucker covering Toby Keith. // whiskeyriff.com #tobykeith #dariusrucker #opry #grandoleopry #nashville #countrymusic ♬ original sound – Whiskey Riff