Country music celebrated its past while looking ahead to its promising up-and-coming talent on Saturday evening (April 6), during the ACM Decades showcase in Las Vegas.
For over two hours, the genre’s newcomers paired with artists from the past several decades for memorable collaborations at the Marquee Ballroom of the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino ahead of the 54th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
Carly Pearce shared the stage with Deana Carter for a poignant performance of Carter’s 1996 debut single “Strawberry Wine” while Lauren Alaina showcased her powerhouse vocals beside Jamie O’Neal when singing the latter’s 2000 hit “There Is No Arizona.” Ahead of each performance, the women fangirled over one another with Pearce and Alaina marveling that they were sharing the stage with their heroes.
“I love country music so much and in the ’90s ladies were huge for me,” Pearce said ahead of her duet with Carter. “There were so many ladies from the ’90s and early 2000s that influenced me. So many of those songs I play in my set and this particular one, I’m so fortunate to get to sing with one of my heroes. It’s one of the most influential female country songs of all time in my opinion.”
While Pearce sang her current single “Closer to You” solo, Carter also had her own time in the spotlight with a moving performance of “We Danced Anyway.”
“I’m so grateful and blessed to be able to do this for 20 years,” Carter said at the close of her set.
Additional highlights throughout the evening included newcomer Carlton Anderson singing his striking traditional country ballad “Keep Abilene Beautiful” before collaborating with Tracy Lawrence on “Time Marches On.” Jordan Davis would later share the stage with Lawrence for an energetic performance of “Better Man, Better Off,” which his uncle Stan Paul Davis, penned.
Easton Corbin delivered an animated cover of Joe Diffie’s “John Deere Green” while Maddie & Tae impressed with their striking harmonies on Diamond Rio’s “Meet In the Middle.” Both Mitchell Tenpenny and Cole Swindell shared their admiration for Tim McGraw by covering “Just To See You Smile” and “I Like It, I Love It,” respectively.
Tenille Townes with fellow Canadian Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Home Free, Rodney Atkins, and Michael Ray all took the stage to showcase their country influences as well as perform their latest singles. The evening was hosted by CMT’s Cody Alan and Marley Sherwood and served as part of the 7th Annual ACM Party for a Cause ahead of the ACM Awards.
Portions of proceeds from the event will benefit ACM Lifting Lives, the philanthropic arm of the Academy of Country Music dedicated to improving lives through the power of music.
The 54th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will air Sunday, April 7 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/delayed PT.