Troy Gentry Remembered in Emotional Service at Grand Ole Opry [PICTURES]
The Grand Ole Opry was packed to capacity for a memorial service in honor of the late Troy Gentry on Sept. 14; click through the gallery above to see photos from the event. One-half of Montgomery Gentry, the artist was killed on Sept. 8 when a helicopter he was riding in crashed in New Jersey.
Friends, family, fans and many of Gentry's country music colleagues were on hand to remember the musician and pay tribute. Radio personality Storme Warren hosted the emotional event that began with a nod to Gentry's patriotic dedication and a performance of the national anthem by Little Big Town.
Warren went on to describe his relationship with Gentry, which began professionally, then burgeoned into friendship, and ultimately, Warren said, a brotherhood.
"We lost a great one, but he is here with us forever," Warren said, directed to Gentry's two daughters, Kaylee and Taylor.
Friends of Gentry's and fellow Kentuckians, David Tolliver and Chad Warrix of the band Halfway to Hazard, performed "My Old Kentucky Home."
"Anytime I ever shared this stage with Troy, it was a privilege. Today is no different," Trace Adkins said before he played a moving rendition of "Wayfaring Stranger."
Rafael Calderon, Gentry's best friend for ten years, acknowledged Gentry's passion for celebrating holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas, saying that the musician gave Martha Stewart a run for her money in his decorating panache.
Warren told a story of a legend of the country music world, Charlie Daniels, keeping tabs on the duo Montgomery Gentry.
"Are Troy and Eddie still rocking it pretty hard?" Daniels had asked, to which Warren replied in the affirmative. "They'll learn," the country icon replied in jest. After the story, Daniels took to the Opry stage for a tribute performance to Gentry.
"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. I thank you Lord, for letting us have Troy before you took him back," Daniels said before performing a stripped down version of the old hymn "How Great Thou Art."
Mike Glenn, Senior Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, says that Troy and Angie Gentry became members of his church after Angie dragged her husband to church the same way that someone might drag a pet to the veterinarian. Gentry eventually warmed to the church life.
"All of us who knew him were so excited about who he was now ... he was the best Troy we had ever seen ... and then the phone rang," Glenn said. It was Angie, with news of her husband's death. Glenn went on to recount the lasting impact that Gentry had on all of the people in his life.
Vince Gill took the stage and gave a nod to his friendship with Gentry through the Grand Ole Opry, into which Montgomery Gentry were inducted into in 2009. He encouraged the surviving half of Gentry's band, Eddie Montgomery, to reach out to the Grand Ole Opry family for support.
"To Eddie ... lean on this family. It's a good one. This family has a history of loss ... stay within this family." Gill said tearfully, spurring an enduring round of emotional applause. After a pause to collect himself, Gill performed "Whenever You Come Around," the first song that Gentry every played for his wife, Angie.
Mike Glenn closed the ceremony with a prayer, and then the latest Montgomery Gentry song, "Better Me," was played: a song that several speakers acknowledged was autobiographical of the late artist. Warren thanked everyone in attendance at the memorial and challenged them all to "love one another" and, like Gentry did, continue working to become a "Better Me."
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