Chester Bennington's Widow Breaks Her Silence

'Nashville: On the Record 2' Pays Tribute to Songwriters

Cast members of the ABC drama prove their singing chops and salute writers on special show filmed at the Opry

Lennon and Maisy Stella, Charles Esten and Clare Bowen perform on 'Nashville: On the Record 2.' Credit: Chris Hollo/Disney ABC Television Group

This Wednesday's episode of ABC's Nashville will be drama free, as the show will be devoted to the stories behind the music, rather than the characters' soapy stories. Nashville: On the Record 2 will air on the series' regular time slot of 10 p.m. ET, featuring the actor-singers performing their tunes and discussing the marriages of their melodies and lyrics.

The show was filmed at the Grand Ole Opry on January 31st before a packed audience; the show sold out in just 46 minutes. Fans proved patient as each song was repeated a few times for TV taping purposes, prompting Charles Esten (who plays "Deacon Claybourne") to quip, "It didn't take this long to write it," about “I Know How to Love You Now," the song he co-wrote and performed with special guest Deana Carter. The song was incorporated into his Nashville storyline of proposing to the show's leading lady, Rayna Jaymes.

Jokes aside, the evening included heartfelt reverence for the craft of songwriting. Throughout the show, the performers acknowledged and thanked the songwriters in the audience, including Mary Gauthier, who penned "How You Learn to Live Alone," a ballad performed by Jonathan Jackson ("Avery Barkley.") Before the show, Jackson told Rolling Stone Country that the song elegantly reflects the changes that Avery has been through. "One of the awesome things about the show is you get to see the transformation of characters through music, which can go to a deeper place of the human experience," he said.

Clare Bowen ("Scarlett O'Connor") told Rolling Stone Country she was particularly excited to perform "Friend of Mine," which Scarlett, Deacon and Beverly sang in a particularly poignant moment of the show's current season. "It's a beautiful three part," Bowen said of the song written by Lucy Schwartz, another songwriter in attendance. "She wrote 'Black Roses' [as well]. It’s wonderful. She’s quite amazing. Everyone’s still going on about 'Black Roses.'"

Also in the audience were students whose schools have been recipients of the CMA Foundation's donations to build music programs — including songwriting classes — in public schools.

The fans, students and songwriters were thrilled to hear stars including Will Chase ("Luke Wheeler") and Sam Palladio ("Gunnar Scott") play, but the crowd really went wild when superstar guest Reba McEntire walked on stage to perform her first single on Nash Icon Records, "Going Out Like That." The song took the Number One spot on iTunes Country Top Songs in the US and Canada upon its release, and the crowd didn't need to be reminded to applaud wildly when McEntire's entrance was filmed more than once.