While the Academy of Country Music Awards, which were originally supposed to air April 5, were postponed until Sept. 16 due to coronavirus concerns, in that awards show’s original time slot this Sunday, CBS aired ACM Presents: Our Country. The two-hour special was hosted by Gayle King and featured a who’s-who of country A-listers, direct from their own homes... but the real stars of the show were Shania Twain’s four-legged quarantine friends.
“In a world where we're spending so much time alone, Shania Twain has managed to find some really interesting company,” King quipped, before the broadcast switched over to Twain at her ranch, sitting in a stable with a sleepy yellow Labrador curled up at her cowboy-booted feet and a beautiful, very un-sleepy, cream-colored horse by her side.
“These are crazy times, but we're going to do what we always do and pull together to get through it — from our homes to your homes, with stories, songs, and all of us,” said Twain. “Because let's face it, we're all in this together.”
Twain then crooned the appropriate "Honey, I'm Home,” with its line “give the dog a bone,” before strumming a bit of "Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” And while the dog seemed utterly uninterested in the whole at-home spectacle and maintained his social distance, the horse paid rapt attention and practically turned the performance into a duet, getting way closer to Twain than six feet as he nuzzled her face and even licked her guitar strings.
“She got so much love from the horse, but her dog didn't move at all! It seems like her dog was like, ‘That don't impress me much,’” joked King. Meanwhile, the horse was a Twitter hit with viewers at home.
Actual human duets on the special included Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker, Kane Brown and John Legend, and Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani; the first two performances were conducted remotely, via video spit-screen, while the latter two lovebirds sang together as they quarantined at Shelton’s Oklahoma homestead.
ACM Presents: Our Country also included intimate performances by Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Brandi Carlile, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Sheryl Crow, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban.
The special ended with salute to country legend Kenny Rogers, who died of natural causes on March 20. “Every artist on this program tonight was a friend and a fan, and several of them asked if they could perform some Kenny Rogers songs as a tribute to him,” explained King. Paisley and Rucker virtually dueted on “Lucille” and “The Gambler”; Luke Bryan did “Coward of the County”; and Bryan’s American Idol co-star, Lionel Richie, introduced a classic performance of his “Lady” duet with Rogers from the 2012 ACM Awards.
“The loss of [Rogers] is tremendous on my heart,” said Richie. “The memories, it's unbelievable. We lived so much life together, and tonight I want to celebrate his life. And I want to say to all of his fans: He enjoyed the ride. Let us celebrate his life, his legacy, and more importantly, the music. God bless you, Kenny. God bless your family.”
ACM Presents: Our Country followed last Sunday’s similar Elton John-organized charity special, iHeart Living Room Concert for America, and last week’s Garth & Trisha: Live by Request!, during which the country couple took fans’ song requests on Twitter and performed remotely from their Nashville home studio.
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