Honoring the Original Outlaw

Willie, Loretta, and nearly a dozen other artists will pay tribute to Merle Haggard in a special concert this April

Photo: Courtesy of Blackbird Presents

On Friday, April 6, the one-year anniversary of Merle Haggard’s passing and what would have been his 80th birthday, an incredible musical lineup will gather at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggardand tickets go on sale March 3. Country icons like Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn will pay tribute to the original outlaw, alongside a new generation of musicians, from Alison Krauss to the Avett Brothers.

“Merle found a way to be the hero and the underdog,” says Kacey Musgraves, who’s on the lineup. “He was the song for the workin’ man and the song for the workin’ man with a heart.” Adds Kenny Chesney, who will also perform: “His voice as a songwriter told me you could write and sing about the people nobody notices and make them important—as important as they truly are. It’s a lesson I took to heart.” Hank Williams, Jr., Miranda Lambert, John Mellencamp, Warren Haynes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lucinda Williams, and many more artists also are slated to honor Haggard at the concert.

Over the course of his career, Haggard racked up a staggering thirty-eight No. 1 country hits, but his legacy far surpasses any single. Haggard pushed back against the polished sounds that dominated mid-century Nashville, bringing a rougher honky-tonk spirit to mainstream audiences. As today’s artists continue to test the boundaries of what country music can be, Merle’s impact is more evident than ever.

“It’s truly going to be the night to honor the poet of the common man,” says Ben Haggard. “Or as I know him, my father.”

A portion of the proceeds will go toward the T.J. Martell Foundation. But if you can’t make it to Nashville in early April, the concert will be recorded for broadcast and distribution, too. Stay updated via Music of Merle’s website.