By Brandon Moseley
Huntsville came out in force on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to listen to music and pay tribute to the career of singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood. The All-Star Salute to Lee Greenwood was one of the biggest concert events in the history of Huntsville and the biggest performance event in the city in years.
Many performers traveled to the Rocket City to join in the celebration of Greenwood’s 40 years of singing songs and entertaining Americans for generations. Performers present included a who’s who in country music as well as performers from other genres. The show opened with the Oak Ridge Boys and ended nearly three and a half hours later, with Greenwood leading the dozens of performers in the singing of his iconic hit “God Bless the USA.”
That song has helped keep Greenwood in the public conscious decades after his career began and after the song was written. That song has almost become the unofficial third national anthem, behind "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful." Greenwood and the country group Home Free received a 2021 Telly Award for 'Most Viral Video' with over 200 million web views across social media for their recent performance of "God Bless the USA."
Former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. (R-Montgomery) and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) presented Greenwood with a joint resolution of the legislature, signed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, honoring the three-time Country Music Male Vocalist of the Year. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill was also present.
Greenwood’s songs have topped the country charts several times and he even won a Grammy Award for Top Male Vocal Performance of the year for his crossover hit “I.O.U,” in 1985. His discography includes 22 studio albums, seven compilation albums, seven No. 1 hits, and 38 singles, including songs like “It Turns Me Inside Out,” “Ring On Her Finger Time on Her Hands,” “She’s Lyin,” “I Don’t Mind the Thorns if You’re the Rose,” “Dixie Road,” “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “Going Going Gone,” “You Got A Good Love Comin,” among others.
Huntsville is the home of the Marshall Space Flight Center; and the concert included a music video honoring the workers of the NASA program with Greenwood singing: “The Wind Beneath My Wings” – aka ‘Did You Ever Know That You’re My Hero.’
Former President George W. Bush even paid a video tribute to Greenwood during the event.
Greenwood and the 83-years old Sam Moore sang a duet of Moore’s iconic hit: “I am a Soul Man” joined by over a dozen other headline performers.
Patriotism and veterans have long been a cause that is important to Greenwood and the event partnered with the Texas-based charity “Helping a Hero” to award two severely disabled veterans of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with new handicapped-accessible homes.
Staff Sergeant Michael Brown and retired Army Sergeant First Class Scott Barkalow were the recipients of the two new homes that will be funded and built by Breland homes.
The event was emceed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) and celebrity chef Paula Dean.
The 40 performers at the event honoring Greenwood for his 40 years of hits tribute included: the Gatlin Brothers, Debbie Boone, Tracy Lawrence, Neal McCoy, Felix Cavaliere, Rhonda Vincent, Deana Martin, Crystal Gayle, T. Graham Brown, Larry Gatlin, Darryl Worley, Felix Cavaliere, Big & Rich, the Front Men of Country (featuring Larry Stewart, Richie McDonald, & Tim Rushlow), Ty Herndon, Scott Stapp, Home Free, Sam Moore, the Oak Ridge Boys, Greenwood himself, and more.
The event was sponsored by Henry Repeating Firearms. Henry executives were on hand to present both Greenwood and some veterans with their iconic lever-action rifles.
Platinum sponsors of the event also included: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lynda Blanchard, Wellborn Cabinets, Soldier Valley Spirits, and Breland Homes.
The event was preceded by a celebrity luncheon honoring Greenwood in Huntsville. Hooper was the chairman of that event.
“It was great to be able to honor a great performer and patriot, like Lee Greenwood,” Hooper told the 1819 News. “His “Proud to be an American” is one of my all-time favorite songs."
Hooper said that the packed house was a sign of how much Huntsville and Alabama love Greenwood and that Huntsville is poised to attract even more events.
"He could have held this event anywhere in the country; but he chose Alabama,” Hooper, who is a board member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame said.
Tuesday night's concert was the third top-grossing event in the entire history of the Von Braun Center, being surpassed only by shows by Reba McEntire and Elton John – and this was held on a Tuesday night and not a Friday or Saturday night.
Organizers hope that the tremendous success of this event will lead to future concerts and events coming to Huntsville, earlier in their runs, especially now that the 2020 Census shows that Huntsville has surpassed Birmingham as the largest city in the state of Alabama. Huntsville’s close proximity to both Nashville and Birmingham is sometimes a hindrance to the north Alabama city attracting early run headline acts, but it also means that the city of over 215,000 has over three million people living within less than a two-hour drive.