They came and sang "America the Beautiful" in honor of the Declaration of Independence.
Led by a group of soloists that included Amy Grant, Kenny Rogers, Toby Keith, Lyle Lovett and Alabama's Randy Owen, around 60 country, Christian and pop artists gathered Tuesday evening (June 18) in Nashville to record the patriotic song for a July 4 ABC News special produced by Norman Lear.
"Country is grounded, American, iconic music," Lear said. "It's in our bloodstream."
The instrumental track for the recording came together in 25 1/2 hours, according to James Stroud, who co-produced the song with Tony Brown. "It's sort of like the Nashville version of 'We Are the World' for the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence," Stroud said.
Participants got to gaze at an original copy of the document, owned by Lear and flown in for the occasion.
"Something like this, where you're dealing with an original, historical document, it's kind of nice that it gets the appreciation that it deserves," said Rogers, who participated in the 'We Are the World' project in 1985. "The fact that proceeds will allow this to go to schools so kids will get to see an actual historic document, I think that's wonderful."
Michael W. Smith, Jewel, Clint Black, Lisa Hartman Black, Rascal Flatts and Sawyer Brown, whose names appeared on a list of prospective participants, were not able to attend.