Dolly Parton has sent her late friend and collaborator Kenny Rogers off with a touching music tribute.

During Wednesday night’s CMT Giants memorial concert special honoring the 81-year-old, who died on March 20, the self-isolating country legend broadcast a somber virtual cover of Rogers’ 1977 song “Sweet Music Man” accompanied only by an acoustic guitar while surrounded by a circle of candles.

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Following Rogers’ death, Parton — who famously duetted with Rogers on the 1983 single “Islands in the Stream” and again on the 1985 track “Real Love” — remembered her friend in a touching Instagram video.

“I know that we all know Kenny is in a better place than we are today,” Parton said, adding that she felt Rogers’ spirit would give her strength as the coronavirus pandemic casts a dark shadow over the world. “But, I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be talking to God sometime today, if he ain’t already. He’s going to be asking him to spread some light on a bunch of this darkness going on here. I loved Kenny with all my heart and, and my heart is broken, and a big old chunk of it has gone with him today. I think I can speak for all his family, his friends, and fans when I say that I will always love you.”

View this post on Instagram You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone. I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend. So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, dolly.

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton) on Mar 21, 2020 at 7:39am PDT


In addition to Parton, Wednesday’s CMT Giants special featured interviews with Rogers’ friends and those he inspired in the country music industry, including Gavin DeGraw, Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Jennifer Nettles, Lady AntebellumLionel Richie, Michael McDonald, Randy Houser, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill, which was blended with rare archival photos and footage from throughout Rogers’ career.

Watch Parton perform “Sweet Music Man” above.

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