Little Big Town, Jimmy Webb Reflect on Their 2017 CMA Awards Glen Campbell Tribute
Little Big Town performed one of the most touching tributes at Wednesday night's (Nov. 8) 2017 CMA Awards. The group, made up of Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet, sang "Wichita Lineman," in honor of Glen Campbell, accompanied on the piano by Jimmy Webb, who wrote the classic tune.
"We grew up on Glen Campbell’s music," Schlapman shared with The Boot and other reporters backstage during the ceremony. "It means everything to us. It formed who we are as musicians, and what an incredible honor it was to share that music tonight. And we love his family so much."
Added Westbrook, "It was such a special moment, and Jimmy Webb -- this was the first time that we actually got to meet him. He’s such a sweet soul. And to stand up there and have a moment like that with him was so special, and I don’t know – it was just a special night tonight, and we’re just proud to be a part of that moment."
Webb, who wrote other hits for Campbell, including "Galveston" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," couldn't think of a better way to pay tribute to his late friend than by sharing the stage with the reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year.
"The blend of the male and female voices is angelic. It’s like something you just don’t hear that much," Webb says of Little Big Town. "I’ve been making records, writing songs, for 50 years, and there’s something special about that group. So when they asked me, would I play the piano for "Wichita Lineman," first I picked myself up off the floor, and then I said, ‘Yeah. I think I will take a shot at that. I hope I don’t disappoint.'"
Campbell, who died on Aug. 8 -- exactly three months prior to the 2017 CMA Awards -- also won the 2017 CMA for Musical Event of the Year, for "Funny How Time Slips Away," a duet with Willie Nelson; the song comes from Campbell's final album, Adios. The posthumous win, along with the touching tribute, was a reminder to Campbell's family of how beloved he was in the country music community.
"We’re overwhelmed with the support and the love that the music community has shown Glen, the respect," Campbell's wife Kim shared. "Glen is an icon: He’s the first crossover artist. He brought country music to the mainstream, and I’m just so thrilled that he’s able to be honored ... He loved Willie so much. They had such a long friendship, relationship. I’m so proud of Glen. I know he’d be smiling down on all of us."
Kim, who attended the ceremony with two of her and Campbell's children, Shannon and Ashley, said that being able to sing, even after his Alzheimer's diagnosis, was Campbell's final message to his fans.
"What Glen wanted to do was make music, with his family and with his friends, and continue to live his life publicly," she said. "I think he showed the world that, even if you get a diagnosis, there’s still a lot of life to live, a lot of love left to give, a lot of music to make. Music is magic. Music is therapeutic for all of us; whether you’re suffering from depression or dementia or whatever it is, music will lift you up and take you on the rest of your journey."
"Funny How Time Slips Away" is available for download on iTunes.
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