*This video has since been removed, per request of the Grand Ole Opry.
The life of Little Jimmy Dickens, the small-statured Grand Ole Opry star who died January 2nd, was celebrated yesterday during a memorial service at Dickens’ home away from home: the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. With photos of the charismatic country-music ambassador flanking the Opry stage, artists from Brad Paisley to Old Crow Medicine Show took turns remembering Dickens and singing in his honor.
Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill provided the most emotional moment of the morning with a duet on Gill’s “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” The 1995 ballad has become “the most used funeral song in the country,” Gill told Rolling Stone Country with amazement last June. He performed the spiritual at the funeral of George Jones as well, on the very same stage in 2013, with help from Patty Loveless.
Prior to Gill and Underwood’s performance, both spoke about their friendship with Dickens, with Underwood sharing a touching story of how he would always greet her with a kiss of her hand. Gill, ever the musician, talked at length about the guitar he was holding, a Telecaster that belonged to a member of Dickens’ band.
Dickens, the longest-performing member of the Grand Ole Opry, was admitted to the hospital on Christmas Day after suffering a stroke. He died a week later from cardiac arrest at age 94.