Superstar Sara Evans and accomplished songwriters Chris DeStefano, Brett James and Marcus Hummon rounded out the lineup for this week's esteemed CMA Songwriters Series. Set in the grandly crafted CMA Theatre at the Country Music Hall Of Fame & Museum, these artists stripped down many of their most well-known cuts, sharpening the lens on songwriting and authentic storytelling.
CMA nominated singer Brandy Clark and Jaren Johnston were originally scheduled but unable to attend. Regardless, the next two hours of live acoustic music was well worth it.
Celebrating the franchise's 10 year anniversary, each musician took turns interpreting their hits, kicked off by DeStefano and his co-penned, Ashley Gorley collaboration "Good Girl" (originally performed by Carrie Underwood). He later came back around to deliver one of the evening's finest vocals, a haunting version of Underwood's "Something In The Water." His set list also included Brett Eldredge's "Don't Ya" (which DeStefano spun with a little jazz and R&B) and Rascal Flatts' "Rewind."
Peppered throughout the night, Evans powered through such hits as her first-ever single "Three Chords & The Truth" and her signature "Born To Fly" smash. As a nice little treat, her collaborator Gavin DeGraw popped out of the curtain mid-way through the show. He then joined Evans on "Not Over You," which is included on this year's Slow Me Down project. Evans also delivered a captivating performance of "Perfect."
Several other standout moments included Hummon's searing "God Bless The Broken Road" and two Dixie Chicks' hits "Ready To Run" and "Cowboy Take Me Away." Later on, he offered up a brand new song called "I Can't Read Your Mind."
James, also, had a few remarkable showings, as he follwed up DeStefano's "Water" with "Jesus Take The Wheel" (a six-week No. 1 single in 2005). His set also featured Kelly Clarkson's "Mr. Know It All," Dierks Bentley's inspiring "I Hold On" (the night's most emotionally jarring) and Kenny Chesney's "Out Last Night."
Of course, Gavin's appearance elicited rousing cheers from the crowd, and he couldn't escape so easily without performing some of his own material. Following his Evans' joint effort, he took to the piano to lay into his signature blockbuster "I Don't Wanna Be" and his more passionate "Soldier."
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