Music

90s Country Stars Band Together at Anita Cochran Cancer Benefit

Photo by Lorie Liebig

On a chilly Tuesday night in Nashville, some of the biggest names in country music during the 1990s took the stage to show love and support for one of their own.

Anita Cochran signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1997 and released her charted debut album Back to You that same year. She hit No. 1 with “What If I Said,” a duet with one of her music heroes, Steve Wariner.  Over the years, Cochran developed strong relationships with artists and others within the country music community.

Last fall, Cochran was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatments have forced her off the road, leaving her with a smaller income to put toward medical bills. It didn’t take long for Cochran’s close friend and fellow country singer, Terri Clark, to burst into action.

The result was 90’s Unplugged, a benefit concert at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley that featured a star-studded lineup. Crystal Gayle, Wade Hayes, Clay Walker, Ty Herndon, Jamie O’Neal, Lorrie Morgan, Steve Wariner, Mandy Barnett, Bryan White, Pam Tillis, Suzy Bogguss and The Lynns took the stage to perform a sample of their biggest hits.

Hayes, the night’s first performer who also survived two battles with colon cancer, took a moment to talk about his own journey with the disease.

“I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be here tonight,” he told the audience. “You need to go live your life. I’ve realized how much of this precious gift I’ve taken for granted.”

Self-reflection was a large theme of the night. Many of the artists spoke about Cochran’s strength and fearlessness during her cancer battle.

Cochran herself took the stage with Steve Wariner after being invited to sing their duet “What If I Said” together for the first time in 18 years.

“It’s hard to accept, but I’ve never felt so much love in my entire life,” she said tearfully before beginning the song. “You’ll never know what it means to me.”

Another highlight of the night came when Wynonna made a surprise appearance, shocking Cochran who credits the Judds’ music as an inspiration for her own career.

“When you know somebody needs something, you just do it,” Wynonna explained. “I’m here because I love this woman. I’m wanting you to just receive this love tonight and let it heal you, and a sense of not only belonging, but knowing that your are loved because of who you are and not just what you do,” she told Cochran, watching from the audience.

In honor of Anita, Wynonna took a moment to do something she rarely does publicly — sing two of the Judds’ biggest hits, “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days” and “Love Is Alive.”

Overall, the night was a perfect example of the love, kindness and care that makes the country music community so great.

If you’re interested in donating funds towards Anita Cochran’s cancer treatments, visit her GoFundMe page.

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90s Country Stars Band Together at Anita Cochran Cancer Benefit