Jason Aldean Honors Toby Keith In Front Of Late Legend's Family

By Kelly Fisher

May 17, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

Jason Aldean paid tribute to late country legend Toby Keith with a reimagined version of one of the Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter’s 90s hits, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” during the 59th ACM Awards on Thursday evening (May 16). Aldean released his cover on Friday (May 17), remembering it as “a song that I’ve played ever since I started playing clubs as a teenager. Thank you Toby for the mark you left on country music, and thank you to his family for letting me be a part of this.”

Aldean, the reigning ACM Artist of the Decade, said earlier this week that he’s honored to pay tribute to my friend, the one and only [Toby Keith] with a special performance of ‘Should’ve Been A Cowboy’ at the [ACM Awards]. Join me as we celebrate his legacy and the mark he left on country music.”

Blake Shelton, a fellow Oklahoma-born artist, said he was “heartbroken and yet honored” to pay tribute to the late country megastar on stage at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Shelton spotlighted Keith’s family — including wife Tricia Lucus, son, Stelen Keith Covel, and daughters Krystal Keith and Shelly Covel Rowland — who wept as they watched Aldean’s performance. Images of Keith were displayed as Aldean performed on stage at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

“Toby, we’ll never forget you and I kind of feel like you’re here with us tonight anyway,” host Reba McEntire said after Aldean concluded his performance.

Keith “passed peacefully last night on Feb. 5 surrounded by his family,” following a years-long battle with stomach cancer that he fought “with grace and courage,” per a statement posted to his social media pages in the early morning hours of February 6. He was 62. The Songwriters Hall of Famer and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee was honored in tributes across the country music community, including other performances in his honor. His children remembered him as their “hero.”

Other artists taking the stage throughout the evening at the 59th ACM Awards included Post MaloneParker McCollumKelsea Ballerini and Noah KahanNate Smith and Avril Lavigne; husband-and-wife duo Blake Shelton and Gwen StefaniJason AldeanKane BrownJelly RollCody JohnsonMiranda LambertThomas RhettChris Stapleton and Lainey Wilson. McEntire, who returned to host the show for the 17th time, performed her newest single, “I Can’t.” McEntire confirmed she'll host the milestone 60th ACM Awards in 2025.

Jason Aldean
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