The 2021 ACM Awards took place at various parts throughout Nashville, because of the pandemic. While the show went on mostly without an audience, except for vaccinated healthcare workers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, there were still plenty of great performances and stand-out moments. Keep reading to see ten of our favorites.
10. Miranda Lambert and Elle King, “Drunk (And I Don’t Want to Go Home)
Miranda Lambert and Elle King kicked off the show with a performance of “Drunk (And I Don’t Want to Go Home),” and what a performance it was to open the ceremony. The feisty performance took place from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
9. Ashley McBryde, “Martha Divine”
If there was any doubt about Ashley McBryde‘s star power, they were laid to rest with her performance of “Martha Divine,” from a stage along the Cumberland River. The revenge-filled tune came alive with McBryde’s performance, backed by a full band.
8. Kelsea Ballerini and Kenny Chesney, “Half of My Hometown”
Kelsea Ballerini is joined by Kenny Chesney on the song, “Half of My Hometown.” The tune, from her recent Kelsea album, was written about their collective hometown, Knoxville, Tennessee, and as well as they sound on the record, they made even more musical magic while performing it at the Grand Ole Opry.
7. Luke Combs, “Forever After All”
Luke Combs‘ performed his current single, “Forever After All” from the Grand Ole Opry. The song, from his What You See Is What You Get record, came alive thanks to Combs’ being accompanied by an orchestra.
6. Dan + Shay, “Glad You Exist”
Dan + Shay performed an acoustic version of their current single, “Glad You Exist,” from the Bluebird Cafe, where they also later accepted the award for Duo of the Year. The song, written as a thank you to their friends, family and fans, came alive in the intimate setting.
5. Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd, “Chasing After You”
Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd showed off their off-screen chemistry with their live performance of “Chasing After You,” the couple’s first duet together. Married for three years, the parents of one sizzled on stage singing their current single.
4. Alan Jackson, “Drive (For Daddy Gene)”
It might have been a few years since Alan Jackson has taken the stage at the ACM Awards, but his performance reminded everyone why he is still as much a part of country music as ever. Jackson performed his 2002 hit, “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” inspired by his father, as well as “You Will Always Be My Baby,” written for his daughters.
3. Blake Shelton, “Austin”
It’s been 20 years since Blake Shelton‘s breakout hit, “Austin,” which put him on the fast-track to superstardom. Shelton, who has had dozens of chart-topping singles since then, celebrated the anniversary with a performance of his debut hit by performing it again, before launching into his current single, “Minimum Wage.”
2. Chris Stapleton and Miranda Lambert, “Maggie’s Song”
There probably weren’t too many dry eyes by the time Chris Stapleton finished his performance of “Maggie’s Song,” with Miranda Lambert lending her voice to the background vocals. The song, from Stapleton’s Starting Over album (which won the ACM Award for Album of the Year), was written about Stapleton’s own dog, Maggie, who passed away in 2019.
Stapleton’s wife, Morgane, was supposed to perform with her husband, but had to back out, due to Morgane’s “prior doula commitment,” the Academy of Country Music announced ahead of the performance.
1. Carrie Underwood’s My Savior medley
Carrie Underwood had church live from the Grand Ole Opry. The American Idol alum went through several songs from her recent My Savior album, kicking off her seven-minute performance with an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace,” before launching into “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” which included an appearance with CeCe Winans, who also joined Underwood on “The Old Rugged Cross,” before Underwood finished by singing “How Great Thou Art.”