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CMT, AXS TV to Pay Tribute to Merle Haggard

Cable networks CMT and AXS TV will pay tribute to legendary country music singer Merle Haggard, who passed away earlier today, with special programming airing over the next few days.

CMT tonight will air a special, CMT Remembers Merle Haggard, in tribute to the country star, who died Wednesday on his birthday at 79 years of age. The special will feature never-before-seen footage and interviews, vintage performance clips and commentary from Haggard himself as well as some of country music’s biggest stars, including Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, Florida Georgia Line, Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd, Dwight Yoakam, Brooks & Dunn and Bobby Bare.

Tomorrow, CMT and CMT Music will launch an all-day tribute featuring Haggard’s greatest songs and videos,network officials said.  

“Merle Haggard’s achievements must be counted among the greatest in all of popular music history, not just country music,” Brian Philips, president of CMT, said. "His poetic and melodic genius, and of course his indelible, influential voice, will live forever. CMT will honor our friend accordingly."

AXS TV Friday (April 8) will offer a special airing of its series The Big Interview, featuring Dan Rather's 2013 interview with Haggard, AXS officials said. In addition, the network on Friday will air the 2004 concert Merle Haggard-Live at Billy Bob’s Texas, which features Haggard singing several of his most popular songs, including "Ol’ Country Singer," Natural High" and his cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," the network said. 

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.