Billy Ray Cyrus, Dennis Quaid, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack and more shared the stage
Tanya Tucker kicked off the 2020 CMT Next Women of Country: Bring My Flowers Now Tour on Sunday evening (Jan. 12), in Nashville with a sold-out show at Ryman Auditorium.
The epic, two-hour career spanning set saw the country singer bring out many of her famous friends for surprise collaborations including Billy Joe Shaver, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dennis Quaid, Jamey Johnson, Johnny Rodriguez, Lee Ann Womack, and Margo Price.
Despite the impressive lineup of special guests, Tucker remained in the spotlight for the show’s entirety with her animated persona while showing off her Elvis Presley-inspired dance moves. At one point, she told the audience she was wearing a ring of the late singer’s, adding, “So I can go like this,” while mimicking his gyrating hips. All the while, her humor and gratitude to be on the famed stage for a sold-out show was apparent.
Tucker recalled first watching the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman as a child with her father, dreaming of one day being a performer there. “There is not a place I’d rather perform,” she told the audience. “The greatest award in the world is right here. This is a dream.”
The singer played numerous songs off her four-time Grammy-nominated 2019 album While I’m Livin’ including the poignant "Bring My Flowers Now," lead single "The Wheels of Laredo" and reflective "Hard Luck," as well as countless chart toppers from her catalog — several that she released in her teens. Following a performance of “Lizzie and the Rainman,” a song she released at the age of 16, Tucker marveled that the audience remembered the words. “You remember it! Well, I’m surprised I do,” she said with a laugh.
From the hits to the all-star collaborations, here are five things we loved at Tucker’s tour kick-off in Nashville.
The classics held up over 40 years later
For much of Tucker’s two-hour set, she transported the audience back in time with her early hits. “We’re starting from the very beginning,” Tucker said one song into her set after performing 1973 chart topper “Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone).” Donned in black fringe pants, rhinestone-emblazoned jacket and black top hat with a pink feather, Tucker and her eight-piece band played hit after hit to the delight of the crowd who sang along word for word.
“What’s Your Mama’s Name” and “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” also 1973 hits, impressed before Tucker brought out her first guest of the evening, Jamey Johnson, to assist on the poignant “Don’t Believe My Heart Can Stand Another You.” As the pair traded vocals and compliments as the audience clapped along, their admiration for one another was apparent. Additional highlights included the Latin influenced “San Antonio Stroll” where Tucker and her band joined arm in arm to kick up their legs like they were members of the Radio City Rockettes and grand finale with her breakthrough hit “Delta Dawn” alongside each of her surprise guests.
Tucker’s fans span generations
Despite While I'm Livin' being Tucker's first album of new music in nearly two decades, her fans never abandoned her. She shared her gratitude for them several times throughout her set and while performing the reflective “Strong Enough to Bend,” Tucker noticed a young fan in the front row. As she walked side stage to lift the baby from its mother, she held the baby on her hip as she serenaded her youngest fan in the venue. The toddler would keep her hand on the microphone as Tucker sang to her with the singer predicting after her performance, “I think she’s destined for greatness.”
Unexpected collaborations exemplified Tucker’s legend status
A concert in Nashville usually promises a surprise guest or two, but Tucker more than delivered by bringing out seven of her friends and admirers throughout her set. Margo Price stunned on the stirring “Love Me Like You Used To” while Lee Ann Womack joined in for “High Ridin’ Heroes.” Later, actor Dennis Quaid joined Tucker for a song he wrote titled “On My Way to Heaven,” where the two old friends held hands while performing the touching ballad. She also brought out Billy Joe Shaver for a duet of “I’m Just An Old Chunk of Coal.” After each collaboration, both Tucker and her guest would bow down to each other signaling mutual respect. There aren’t many artists out there who could convince numerous acts to give up their Sunday for an appearance, but the magic of Tucker and her first headlining gig at the Mother Church of Country Music did just that.
Tucker can stand in for Lil Nas X on “Old Town Road” with Billy Ray Cyrus
Towards the end of her show Tucker said she’s going to try a song, but admitted that she wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Moments later, the opening lick to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” is heard. As she began the song, a man stood beside her on guitar and once the spotlight hit him the audience erupted into screams realizing it's Cyrus. When they finish their first collaboration, completed with a high-kick from Tucker on the song’s chorus, Cyrus congratulated Tucker on her four Grammy nominations for her latest album While I’m Livin’ before the pair segued into his Grammy nominated hit “Old Town Road.”
Cyrus then launched into the opening of “Old Town Road” while Tucker stood beside him and mimicked riding on a horse with her humorous dance moves. She then joined in on the chorus and later asked the band to backup so she could rap along to Lil Nas X’s portion. As they finished the song and Cyrus walked off the stage, Tucker herself seemed in disbelief at their collaboration. “Nights like this are really special,” she said.
New music is on the way for Tucker
The 61-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down after her massive Grammy recognition. The most nominated country artist at the upcoming Jan. 26 ceremony, Tucker admitted that she’ll be going into the studio on Monday (Jan. 13) to re-record “Delta Dawn” with the surviving players of the original song. Additionally, she has a new collaboration on the way with Kris Kristofferson and Dennis Quaid, which the latter wrote himself. An album of 10 songs is already written and recorded, and if Sunday’s tour kickoff is any indication, Tucker's 2020 is off to a solid start.
The 2020 CMT Next Women of Country: Bring My Flowers Now Tour continues through June.