Chris Stapleton, nominated for CMA Song of the Year, Single of the Year, Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year, joined Patty Loveless for her hit “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” at the 2022 CMA Awards.
Loveless’ haunting bluegrass voice soared alongside Stapleton’s powerhouse vocals and Morgane Stapleton’s stellar harmonies.
Stapleton and Loveless previously performed the song at a sold-out benefit concert, “Kentucky Rising,” which took place in Lexington, Kentucky, on Oct. 11. The event raised over $2.5 million for victims of the recent floods that have ravaged communities in parts of Kentucky.
Darrell Scott, the song’s writer, shared the story behind “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” with Kentucky Country Music. During a trip with his father to Harlan County, they were researching Darrell’s great-grandfather, who was a musician. While visiting the Harlan County Public Library, they searched through books and microfilms of historical records.
They also visited a couple of graveyards where they knew the family lived. On one of the headstones, noticed the inscription “you’ll never leave Harlan alive.”
“I didn’t go there to write the song,” Scott recalled. “I went there to find out what happened to my great-grandfather.” The scenery of that visit to Harlan County would be added into the song he would write a week after his trip.
Scott eventually had a role in Patty Loveless’ version of the song. “I played banjo on Patty Loveless’ version,” said Darrell, recalling memories of that recording session. “In fact, she was having a hard time ‘getting it’ and her husband, Emory, was producing the album. He kept telling her that she wasn’t getting the song. He left and came back with a photo of Patty’s dad, who was a coal miner, and placed it on the music stand. Emory told her to sing the song to her father and that is exactly what she did and what you hear.”
The 56th Annual CMA Awards featured performances from Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Cody Johnson, and Carly Pearce.
The show opened with an all-star tribute to the late Loretta Lynn from Underwood, Reba McEntire and Lambert.
Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, and Lainey Wilson joined together to honor the 2022 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Alan Jackson.
Additionally, the show included star-studded collaborations from Kelsea Ballerini, Kelly Clarkson and Carly Pearce, HARDY and Lainey Wilson, Elle King with The Black Keys, Brothers featuring The War and Treaty, Thomas Rhett and Katy Perry, Chris Stapleton with Patty Loveless, Zac Brown Band, Jimmie Allen and Marcus King as well as Ashley McBryde with Pillbox Patti, Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack and John Osborne.
Mookie Betts, BRELAND, Jessica Chastain, Jordan Davis, Sarah Drew, Cole Hauser, Tyler Hubbard, Wynonna Judd, Lady A, Rex Linn, Little Big Town, Parker McCollum, Reba McEntire, Ben and Erin Napier, Jeannie Seely, Michael Shannon, and Lainey Wilson were on hand to present during the ceremony.
Co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, the 2022 CMA Awards broadcasted live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and aired on ABC (8:00-11:00 PM/ET).
The CMA Awards will also be available for viewing on Hulu beginning Thursday, Nov. 10.
The 56th Annual CMA Awards was a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton served as the Executive Producer, Alan Carter as the Director, and Jon Macks as the Head Writer.