Ed Sheeran‘s heartbreaking Subtract ballad “Life Goes On” is one of his most vulnerable songs yet, and the 32-year-old crooner added an additional layer of emotion on Thursday night (May 11) when Luke Combs joined him onstage to perform the track at the 2023 ACM Awards.
The unlikely duo’s voices blended seamlessly as they traded verses and harmonized on the chorus, with Combs’ raspy tone complementing Sheeran’s famously smooth vocal range. “To tell me how, how my life goes on with you gone?/ I suppose I’ll sink like a stone/ If you leave me now, oh, the storms will roll/ Easy come, hard go, then life goes on,” the two sing on the song written in honor of Sheeran’s late friend Jamal Edwards, who died in February 2022 at 31 years old.
Following the performance, Sheeran revealed to host Garth Brooks that he had initially heard Combs’ music through a friend in 2018 and reached out to him, ultimately sparking his cross-genre, five-year friendship with the “Fast Car” singer. “It’s been great,” Sheeran said of their companionship.
Combs, who performed “Love You Anyway” earlier in the night, was up for four trophies at this year’s ACM Awards, including entertainer of the year, male artist of the year and artist-songwriter of the year. His 2022 album, Growin’ Up, is also nominated for album of the year. He previously won both male artist of the year and album of the year for What You See Is What You Get in 2020.
The ACM Awards is produced by Dick Clark Productions. DCP is owned by Penske Media Eldridge, a Penske Media Corporation (PMC) subsidiary and joint venture between PMC and Eldridge. PMC is the parent company of Billboard.