To honor his father, the late, great entertainment impresario Dick Clark, R.A. Clark was inspired to bring together two Country Music Hall of Famers.
Oklahoman Garth Brooks and Texan George Strait will perform a special tribute to the elder Clark during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, airing live from Las Vegas from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
“I personally reached out with handwritten notes to both guys. I've been thinking about this over the last year since my father passed away and said ‘Who better to honor my father than these two guys who are the reigning artists of the decade?'” R.A. Clark said in a teleconference this week.
Another Oklahoma superstar, Reba McEntire, the ACM Awards' former longtime host, will introduce the tribute performance by Brooks and Strait, the two most recent ACM Artist of the Decade Award recipients.
At Brooks' prompting, the academy also is renaming the once-every-10-years award the ACM Dick Clark Artist of the Decade Award, in honor of the iconic figure and longtime Academy of Country Music Awards producer.
“(It) was really a fantastic thought; the board unanimously supported that thought,” ACM CEO Bob Romeo.
“(It) really pays a fitting tribute to Dick, because I think we all at the academy feel if it wouldn't have been for Dick's commitment over all these years — and as you know, we're approaching our 50th year here in 2015 — I don't know if the show ... would be in existence and surely might not be where it's at today as one of the premier country awards shows.”
Dick Clark, who died April 18, began producing the ACM Awards in 1979 and helped introduce audiences all over America to country music's most talented artists.
“I had no idea it would get this big, and I gotta thank Garth for that. I just thought it was appropriate, above and beyond, you know, a son wanting his father being attributed as the producer of the show,” R.A. Clark said.
“You know, people think of Dick Clark as rock 'n' roll. But he was really instrumental in taking this show, getting it to network television, developing it with a couple of ... and growing it over the years. And it's only gotten bigger and bigger.”
Although he declined to reveal song titles, Clark said each superstar will perform one of their classic hits and then come together to perform a finale that will be “one of theirs.”
“This moment with Garth and George will be unlike anything you've ever seen on television,” added Jack Sussman, executive vice president of CBS specials and live programming.
Brooks won't be the only Oklahoman involved in one of the ACM Awards' signature superstar mashups. Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, who are co-hosting the show, will open it by joining Shelton's wife, Miranda Lambert, her Pistol Annies bandmates Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, country triple threat Brad Paisley and rocker Sheryl Crow in performing Shelton's raucous new single “Boys 'Round Here.”
“This show's not about good country music, not at all. It's about great music, period. These artists are genuine singer-songwriters. They produce and perform great music, and it's great music that translates to live event television. You know, everyone sings live; everyone ups their game,” Sussman said.