NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 11: (L-R) Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen of Alabama receive the Pinnacle Award during day four of CMA Fest 2023 at Nissan Stadium on June 11, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Alabama Stuns CMA Fest Audience with 'Mountain Music,' Receives Rare Award

Alabama got awarded during the 50th CMA Fest with a career-affirming honor.

On a June night in Nashville, Tenn., Alabama made a surprise appearance during one of the 50th CMA Fest's Nissan Stadium shows. While onstage, bandmates and cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry received the latest prestigious award that recognizes their Hall of Fame careers. Clips from the special moment aired Wednesday (July 19) during ABC's annual CMA Fest primetime special.

The duo, which formed Alabama in 1969 with their late cousin Jeff Cook and performed during their mainstream peak with drummer Mark Herndon, electrified the crowd with "Mountain Music." The 1982 hit landed somewhere between fiddle tunes and then-current pop-country trends. A solo write by Owen, the song's influenced by the cousins' Sand Mountain, Ala. upbringing.

Fans also got treated to a medley of "Dixieland Delight" and folk standard "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

That same night, Owen and Gentry got surprised by event co-host Dierks Bentley, who presented them with the CMA's Pinnacle Award.

"They've had over 40 No. 1 songs, 75 million albums sold, three Entertainers of the Year, and the first band to ever play football stadiums," Bentley told the crowd. "They're the most successful band in country music. So, to recognize that achievement, we're handing this out to Alabama tonight. This is the Pinnacle Award from the CMA."

"On behalf of our late cousin, Mr. Jeff Cook, who we recently lost, on behalf of me and Teddy, the whole Alabama gang, thank y'all for letting us play for you for over 50 years. We love you," Owen said.

Per the CMA, the Pinnacle Award "recognizes a Country artist who has undeniably redefined the pinnacle of success in the genre by achieving prominence through concert performances, consumption numbers, record sales and/or other significant industry achievements at levels unique for country music."

The award was previously handed to Garth Brooks (2005), Taylor Swift (2013) and Kenny Chesney (2016).

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