Dressed in an elegant red gown, Underwood was all smiles as she took to the Opry stage for the second time to pay tribute to the legendary women who came before her, capturing the spirit of each artist as she delivered performances of generation-spanning hits. The fierce vocalist opened the set with a steady rendition of Cline’s “Crazy” before picking up the tempo with a song by Cline’s friend Loretta Lynn with the sassy “You Ain’t Woman Enough.”
Underwood’s voice particularly shone as she proclaimed “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” Barbara Mandrell’s hit that took her to the top of the chart in 1981. And rather than delivering a typical Dolly Parton cover song such as “9 to 5” or “I Will Always Love You,” the modern country hit maker instead added a dash of spunk and spice to Parton’s “Why’d You Come in Here” as twinkling purple lights flickered from the Opry pews.
Underwood then took us into the smoldering “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Reba McEntire before sending her voice soaring into the rafters on the closing number, Martina McBride’s stirring “A Broken Wing.” The Entertainer of the Year nominee surely did McBride proud as she hit the illustrious final note with power and grace.
Underwood was also part of the opening medley alongside her fellow Entertainer of the Year nominees Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett, performing a snippet of her smash hit, “Before He Cheats.”
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards, hosted by Keith Urban, are live from Nashville tonight (9/16) on CBS at 8/7c.
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