By Vernell Hackett
“The Life and Times of Kris Kristofferson” will premiere on CMT tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern. The 90-minute show will include concert footage, behind-the-scenes stories and artists honoring a man they all admire.
Performing in the show along with Kristofferson will be Reba McEntire singing “Me and Bobby McGee,” Lady Antebellum’s performing “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” Eric Church rendition of “To Beat The Devil” and Kristofferson and Willie Nelson dueting on “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”
Jessi Alexander, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Ryan Bingham, Rosanne Cash, Jessi Colter, Rodney Crowell, Larry Gatlin, Emmylou Harris, Jack Ingram, Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, the Travelin’ McCourys, Reba McEntire, Buddy Miller, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Jon Randall, Darius Rucker, Hank Williams Jr. and Lee Ann Womack are all featured in the show.
Comments from friends and colleagues demonstrate just how much Kristofferson is revered by his peers. “It was like a depth charge for songwriters when Kris came to town with his songs,” Rosanne Cash says, while Eric Church proclaims, “He has always been a poet.”
Emmylou Harris said, “There’s never been anyone like him in this town. His eyes draw you in and he’s sexy and he is just a great songwriter.” Jamey Johnson says, “He challenges you to dig deep as a songwriter.”
Artists had input into the songs they would sing on the show. For instance, when Bentley was called to do the show, he knew immediately what he wanted to do – “From The Bottle to the Bottom” – and he wanted to bring in the Traveling McCoury’s to add a bluegrass touch to it. It was a natural move for Hank Williams Jr. to sing “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams,” and Kristofferson, Nelson, Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson to perform “The Highwayman.”
The grand finale featured the entire cast singing “Why Me, Lord?”
The concert was taped in March of 2016 in Nashville. There will be a full-length concert film released as a CD and DVD combo. The CD/DVD are available to preorder at Blackbird Presents and Pledge Music. There is also exclusive merchandise from PledgeMusic, including a limited edition framed gig poster from the night of the show and an Epiphone limited edition 1963 J-45 guitar signed by Kristofferson. Go to www. Pledgemusic.com or blackbirdpresents.com/life-songs-of-kris-kristofferson to order.