Jeff Bridges calls T Bone Burnett "the Willy Wonka of music, constantly creating new flavors for our ears."
Introducing the Grammy-winning producer at Sunday's T.J. Martell Nashville Honors Gala, the actor praised the producer, who now works as the supervisor on the ABC TV series Nashville.
"It's people like T Bone that make people say, 'They broke the mold when they made him," said Bridges, who has worked with Burnett on the films Heaven's Gate, The Big Lebowski and Crazy Heart as well as the new documentary A Place at the Table. "But I've got news for you: There never was a mold. He's a work in progress."
Elvis Costello performed four songs, calling actress Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett O'Connor on Nashville, onstage with him to sing The Scarlet Tide, the Oscar-nominated song from Cold Mountain that he wrote with Burnett.
John Mellencamp sang Save Some Time to Dream, at Burnett's request, and also Pink Houses.
Burnett was one of two musicians honored at Sunday's event, which raises money of leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. Vince Gill, who was celebrating his 13th anniversary, was introduced by his wife, Amy Grant, and serenaded by daughter Jenny Gill and blues singer Keb Mo'.
During his acceptance speech, Gill recalled taking his then-15-year-old daughter and her boyfriend to see The Big Lebowski, hoping to bond with them over their love of bowling. "It was perhaps the most uncomfortable two hours of my life," he quipped.
Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureaus president and CEO Butch Spyridon and Nashville philanthropist Peggy Joyce also received awards. Nashville actor Charles Esten hosted the gala.