Watch Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker Cover ‘Purple Rain’ at 2018 Dance Party to End Alz
A slew of country artists took the stage -- and rocked their best '80s fashion -- in support of a good cause on Sunday evening (June 3), as Kimberly Williams-Paisley hosted her second annual Dance Party to End Alz benefit in Nashville. Williams-Paisley's husband, Brad Paisley, appeared as a featured performer and brought out surprise special guest Darius Rucker for a powerhouse duet of Prince's "Purple Rain;" readers can press play above to watch.
In addition to "Purple Rain," Paisley and Rucker teamed up for a performance of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing." Ashley Campbell, High Valley, Charles Esten, Lindsay Ell and many others offered up renditions of some of the '80s most iconic songs throughout the night in support of the fight to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
"I lost my mom [following her battle with dementia] a year and a half ago, and, obviously, that was very emotional," Williams-Paisley told The Boot and other media outlets backstage before the show. "But I want tonight to be about people coming together with hope, and with joy, because we all need to work together to fight this disease."
In 2017, Williams-Paisley selected the 1970s as the theme for her Dance Party to End Alz. Making the move from the '70s to the '80s for 2018 was originally her husband's idea: "He felt like there was a greater range of options for what he and a lot of other people could do," she explains.
"There's so many ways to go. We're really having fun with the theme, and I think we might stick with this one for a little while," Williams-Paisley said backstage -- "especially since we have all the gear!" she added with a laugh.
Paisley, who also spoke to media outlets backstage before the show, agrees that focusing on the '80s allows artists to have more fun with the costumes and song choices. "The '70s are a more darker, serious decade, and also a lot of those songs we had to learn," he says. "The '80s? Everybody knows those songs. So it's just fun."
Paisley concurs with his wife that the event will likely focus on the '80s for the foreseeable future. "I think it could be fun to do the '90s at some point, though," he adds.
For many of the artists in attendance on Sunday night, Alzheimer's is personal, and a theme of the evening was the disease's universality: Most people know someone affected by Alzheimer's. Kim Campbell -- widow of Glen Campbell, who died of the disease in August of 2017 -- came to support her daughter Ashley, who performed "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" during the event.
"I miss my husband," Campbell tells The Boot. "Alzheimer's is such a devastating illness. It's comforting to be at an event like this, with my Alzheimer's family. The Alzheimer's Association has been such an important part of our lives. They've helped us every step of the way."
Campbell, who is active in raising awareness and helping fund research of the disease, also commented on how Alzheimer's affects the lives of so many: "Everywhere I travel, all over the country, I rarely meet someone who hasn't been touched by Alzheimer's," she continues. "I hope one day we do find a cure. That's why we're all here."
For Williams-Paisley, the process of using music as a means to help those afflicted by the disease also has a personal tie-in: Like many who suffer from late-stage Alzheimer's, her mom could connect to the outside world through music even after she had lost the power of speech.
"Music was a really great way to access the part of her brain that was shutting down," Williams-Paisley explains. "She loved Louis Armstrong, the Beatles -- and yes, '80s music. All the stuff she loved before she got sick would trigger this memory. Even sometimes Brad Paisley songs! She could remember the words to songs, often, when she couldn't find the words to speak."
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