At least two of the many artists slated to perform at the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards are looking forward to the chance to show their love and appreciation for some of the artists that have inspired them in their musical careers.
Charles Kelley, whose band Lady Antebellum will team up with the timeless Stevie Nicks for a performance of “Golden” on the awards show, told Billboard that sharing the stage with Nicks is always a moment to remember (the two also collaborated last year on an edition of “CMT Crossroads”).
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“Rehearsing with Stevie Nicks yesterday was very cool,” said Kelley. “I think the ACM’s will be one of those moments, seeing her in person. She has this aura about her. She’s incredibly humble. She isn’t someone who just comes in, takes a take or two and leaves. We rehearsed for two or three hours yesterday and got it just right. That’s what kind of performer she is. She wants it to be perfect.”
Another artist tipping her hat to one of her all-time favorites will be reigning Female Vocalist of the Year winner Miranda Lambert. She will take part in a salute to Crystal Milestone Award winner Merle Haggard alongside a fellow Texan, George Strait, performing Haggard’s 1966 hit “The Bottle Let Me Down,” which reached No. 3 on the Hot Country Singles charts.
“I’m totally pumped. I’m singing for Merle Haggard with George Strait. Do you get any better than that? I’ve reached my peak,” she joked with Billboard.
Lambert has always been vocal about being a fan of Haggard since her breakthrough in 2005, the year that saw her deliver a memorably knockout performance at the Country Music Awards and win the Academy of Country Music’s Cover Girl Fresh Face of Country Music Award.
“Since I started in the business, people would ask me who my biggest influence is,” says Lambert. “I would always say Merle Haggard. But it’s true. He is absolutely the king, in my opinion, for his songwriting and his voice, how buttery smooth it is, and the way he delivers songs. I hope I do him justice. I’ve met him a bunch of times and I think he’ll be proud.”
Even with fifteen ACM trophies in her name — including the past four in the Female Vocalist of the Year category — the awards show experience never gets old for Lambert. “Absolutely not,” she said. “I’m nervous as heck. I always am — both nervous and excited. There’s butterflies, and all of that stuff.”
The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast from the MGM Grant Garden Arena in Las Vegas on at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.