You can’t put a bunch of country hitmakers, who also happen to be friends — or closer — together and not have some special and spectacular collaborations break out.
That was the case Wednesday night (Nov. 6) at Detroit’s Fox Theatre during the Stars and Strings concert, an annual benefit by Entercom Communications and Radio.com for Folds of Honor, a non-profit that provides scholarships for the children of slain military personnel and provides other veterans services.
The three-hour-plus show, headlined by Keith Urban and filled with genuine camaraderie, brought together artists who knew each other well, whether good pals or, in the case of Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd, a married couple expecting their first child. And like kids away at summer camp, most of them took advantage of the opportunity to do some things they might not ordinarily get a chance to on stage.
That was particularly true during the night’s second song pull with Lady Antebellum, Brett Young and Kelsea Ballerini — the latter two of which have opened for Lady A in the past. The highlight of the entire night, in fact, may have been the first-ever joint performance of Young’s No. 1 Country Airplay smash “Here Tonight,” which Lady A’s Charles Kelley co-wrote; After talking about how it was started in catering during a tour stop, Young and Kelley dueted with backing from the rest of Lady A. “Thanks for lending Kelley to me for a moment,” Young told Lady A’s Hillary Scott and Ave Haywood. “You can have him,” Haywood replied.
Lady A also provided backing vocals for Young’s hit “In Case You Didn’t Know,” while Scott sang a bit of harmony on Ballerini’s latest single “Homecoming Queen.” And Lady A called Hurd onstage for “You Look Good,” which he co-wrote, from the trio’s 2017 album Heart Break.
Hurd and Morris also used the first song pull to enjoy an opportunity to sing with each other while Jon Pardi looked on. The combination on Hurd’s “Diamonds or Twine,” which he released shortly after he married Morris in March of 2018, was particularly sweet, and she also provided backing vocals on his “Michigan for the Winter.” Hurd returned the favor for Morris’ “My Church,” with Pardi and his fiddler also joining in.
Urban, meanwhile, closed the night with a seven-song solo set that included his latest single, “We Were,” along with hits such as “Stupid Boy,” “Long Hot Summer” and “Wasted Time,” as well as a long instrumental improvisation during which he used his acoustic guitar and microphone for percussive effects.