Cody Johnson paid tribute to the late country music icon Merle Haggard on Wednesday evening (Apr. 7) with a special two song performance in the historic Grand Ole Opry circle in Nashville, Tennessee during a tribute event dubbed Opry Salutes Merle Haggard.
“Merle’s music probably shaped me just as much as anybody else’s music and it means a lot for me to be chosen to be here to help pay tribute to him tonight,” Johnson said.
The Texas native then performed “Footlights,” a track solely penned by Haggard that appears on his 29th studio album, Serving 190 Proof.
“The first choice that we had for a Merle Haggard song was ‘Footlights.'” Johnson shared of his first song choice. “The reason being is pretty simple, as a young child I always wondered what it would be like to live out that song and here I am, I’m 34-years-old, I ain’t got no place to go when it’s over, just like the song says.”
He also went on to perform “The Bottle Let Me Down,” which was released by Haggard in August 1966 as the second single from his second studio album, Swinging Doors.
“God Bless Country music,” Johnson said as he concluded his tribute performance on the sacred stage.
The performance comes on the sixth anniversary of his passing and his 85th birthday. Haggard was born on April 6, 1937, and passed away on April 6, 2016.
In addition to Johnson, Lainey Wilson, Suzy Boggus, Joe Nichols, Eli Paperboy Reed, Haggard’s son Marty Haggard and several other artists performed in honor of the late country music icon.
Each of the artists performed Haggard classics as well as their own hits inspired by the late Country Music Hall of Famer.
The Opry Salutes Merle Haggard special was filmed to air as a future Saturday night Opry Live on the Opry’s television broadcast home, Circle Network, Circle All Access Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Among others scheduled for upcoming Opry and Opry Country Classics shows are Lauren Alaina, Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Steve Earle, Sara Evans, Gary LeVox, Oak Ridge Boys, Michael Ray, Connie Smith, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Clay Walker, Rhett Walker, Gene Watson, and more.
Tickets for 2022 Opry performances are on sale now at (615) 871-OPRY and opry.com.