Brooks, who's the ninth country artist to be an honoree, was moved nearly to tears as he and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, marveled at her performance. Clarkson also has an emotional connection to the song, and she told Brooks on The Kelly Clarkson Show in December that "The Dance" helped her get through her divorce with ex-husband Brandon Blackstock.
"I couldn’t quite nail down the feeling," she confessed to him at the time. "I was like, well ... you don’t want to crap on it. Like you don’t want to say that didn’t count or matter, but you don’t know what to put in it because it didn’t work out how you wanted. And so, anyway, I kid you not, I was listening to my playlist and 'The Dance' came on and I was like, 'No, that’s the thing. That’s it.'"