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"The Johnny Cash of our generation": Vince Gill honored at Belmont's Fisher Center

The biggest names in country music gathered Monday night at Belmont's Fisher Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate country music pioneer Vince Gill.

Produced by Country Music Television, the tribute brought together Gill, his family and over a dozen artists who call Nashville home.

Gill and wife, singer Amy Grant, are no strangers to Belmont. Their youngest daughter Corinna is a senior and recently won Battle of the Bands with the Pitch Pockets.

And Gill can now add “CMT Giant” to his many achievements, which include 22 Grammy Awards, 19 CMA Awards and a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The evening’s lineup was stacked with household names like Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton and Cody Johnson. Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, Keith Urban, Reba McEntire, Rodney Crowell and Sting also made appearances.

Grant was unable to attend the event due to a recent biking accident but showed her support for her husband and family through a video message.

Belmont alumnus Brad Paisley sang Vince’s hit song “Little Liza Jane” and Sheryl Crow followed Paisley's performance with words of praise for her longtime friend.

“Before Nashville made him a household name, Vince had already made his mark in bluegrass and pop music, and once he set his sights on country, the game changed, not just for him, but for generations of singers and songwriters. As an entertainer he is unparalleled,” said Crow to the audience.

Luke Combs echoed Crow’s heartfelt words before performing Gills’ 1996 Grammy winning hit “Pretty Little Adrianna.”

“I wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t pursue a career in music so first off, I wanna thank you for lighting a fire in me and helping me discover my love of music,” said Combs, recalling his first ever concert, seeing Gill at just six years old.

Gill shared his appreciation for all who attended.

“To hear all these gifted people sing these songs has just been the greatest blessing,” said Gill before performing his new song “I Gave You Everything I Have.”

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell took their turn honoring the star, as Crowell jokingly recalled their first encounter when Gill, at just 15 years-old, was performing one of Crowell’s songs at the Troubadour Theatre in Nashville.

Harris went on to recognize Gill as “the Johnny Cash of our generation.”

The attention then shifted to fellow Country Music Hall of Famer Skaggs as he performed Gill's 1993 number one hit, “One More Last Chance”.

And although she admitted to having just met Gill that night, Morris said she’s been impacted by his music for many years.

“What is so impressive to me about Vince’s career, is almost every one of his most loved songs, some of the most cherished and timeless songs in country music history came straight from his heart, and they certainly touched mine,”said Morris to the crowd.

The special airs tonight at 8 p.m. on CMT.

PHOTO: Inside the Fisher Performing Arts Center during CMT Giants. Allie Trieschmann/Belmont Vision

This article was written by Allie Trieschmann.

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