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Country Artists, Craig Strickland’s Wife Mourn Backroad Anthem Singer’s Death

As the news of Craig Strickland‘s death made its way through the country music community on Monday (Jan. 4), numerous country artists used social media to send their thoughts and prayers to the Backroad Anthem singer’s loved ones, while his wife spent time on her own accounts remembering her beloved husband.

Among the artists who expressed their condolences were Charlie Daniels, Cole Swindell and Joe Nichols. The gallery above includes messages from them and numerous other artists, including Justin MooreCam and Season 9 The Voice contestant Barrett Baber, all of whom knew Strickland well.

After announcing the news of her husband’s death and expressing her gratitude “to every single person who prayed for him and our family during this time,” Helen Strickland, Craig Strickland’s wife of one year, shared on Instagram a snippet of a video that her husband made for her to watch on their wedding day, “to tell me how much he loved me.”

“I am so thankful for technology in this moment because I will always have this,” Helen Strickland writes. “… Thank you Lord for sharing #craigstrickland with me. You allowed me to borrow him on this earth, but he was always Yours. I will forever cherish our year of marriage.”

On the day of our wedding Craig had me watch a video he had made to tell me how much he loved me. I am so thankful for technology in this moment because I will always have this. I watched this privately prior to walking down the aisle, and so now I want to share this small excerpt with all of you. Thank you @stylistmeganfarmer for helping him make this. I will cherish it for ever. "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15" Thank you Lord for sharing #craigstrickland with me. You allowed me to borrow him on this earth, but he was always Yours. I will forever cherish our year of marriage. This was truly the type of man you were and will always be remembered as. I love you Craig Michael.

A video posted by Helen Wisner Strickland (@helenelizabethstrickland) on

Search and rescue teams — including members in the air, on land and in sonar-equipped boats — had been searching a two-mile area of Kaw Lake in Kay County, Okla., where 29-year-old Strickland, his 22-year-old friend Chase Morland and Strickland’s dog Sam went for a duck hunt early on Dec. 27, despite severe weather conditions. (Evidence suggests that they likely never got an opportunity to begin their hunt.) The search began after Strickland and Morland failed to make contact with their families for 24 hours.

Morland’s body was recovered on the afternoon of Dec. 28, with Sam found, alive, next to his body. On Dec. 31, search crews discovered footprints, boat marks and dog prints that helped them narrow their search area, and a few days later, Strickland’s body was recovered in the same general area. The singer had been able to get out of the water after his boat capsized.

“Craig was the most amazing person whose passion for life couldn’t be matched.” Strickland’s bandmates say. “… Today he is smiling down on us, and we know he will always be with us. He will always be here to help guide us along the way.”

Backroad Anthem began their career in October of 2012. In addition to Strickland on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, the country/rock band includes Toby Freeman on vocals and electric guitar, fiddler Eric Dysart, guitarist Josh Bryant, bassist and vocalist Brandon Robold and drummer Isaac Senty. The group has opened for country artists including Chris Young, Gary Allan and Tyler Farr; they had a New Year’s Eve show planned in Little Rock, Ark., prior to Strickland’s disappearance. There is no official word about the band’s future plans in light of Strickland’s death.

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