Kelsea Ballerini, Lindsay Ell, Runaway June, Maddie & Tae, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde and Little Big Town teamed up for a powerful collaboration at the 53rd annual CMA Awards, providing one of the night’s most anticipated and moving moments.
Starting off with a simple-yet-serene presentation of Ballerini’s “homecoming queen?” — the hit maker sent out a tender message of understanding to anyone feeling trapped by the pressure to be perfect. She was soon joined for a second act, though, as Ell took the small satellite stage with guitar in hand to begin a surprise treatment of Little Big Town’s powerful “Girl Crush” ballad.
Runaway June, Maddie & Tae, McBryde and Pearce then all took a turn on the highly-touted performance, before Little Big Town arrived on the arena’s main stage and climbing to a triumphant climax in four part harmony. Inspired by a seemingly unstoppable sense romantic jealousy, “Girl Crush” brought the secretive collaboration full circle — promoted only as a “CMA Single and Song of the Year” before the show — perhaps describing one of the reasons for the pain behind Ballerini’s “homecoming queen?” in first place.
The 53rd annual CMA Awards aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, co-hosted for the first time by Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton.