Longtime friends and 11-time CMA Awards co-hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley shared top billing once again over Labor Day weekend. This time around, the joke-cracking duo co-headlined the Grand Ole Opry's 4,940th consecutive Saturday Night broadcast.
As often happens when two Opry performers have undeniable chemistry (think Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani or Vince Gill and Amy Grant, but in a completely platonic sense), performances of individual hits gave way to a series of duets.
A night that included Underwood's performances of her debut single "Jesus, Take the Wheel" plus "Dirty Laundry" and "I Told You So," and a set of Paisley favorites anchored by "No I in Beer," also brought fans three special duet performances. Together, Underwood and Paisley sang their own hit, "Remind Me," as well as renditions of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty's "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" and one of the most meaningful and memorable hits of the 21st century, "Whiskey Lullaby." The pair also closed out the live (and live-stream) broadcast with a song synonymous with the Mother Church, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
Paisley recorded "Whiskey Lullaby" with duet partner Alison Krauss for his 2003 album Mud on the Tires. The song racked up several awards, including Music Video of the Year and Vocal/Musical Event of the Year honors from both the Country Music Association (CMA) and Academy of Country Music (ACM). Oddly enough, a song of such magnitude never reached No. 1. It stalled at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.
Unsurprisingly, the song about infidelity and over-imbibing sounded as mighty as ever as two of Nashville's top stars sang it from six feet apart due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Underwood's on this fall's ballot for Entertainer of the Year at both the Keith Urban-hosted ACM Awards (airing Sept. 16) and the 54th annual CMA awards (Nov. 11). The former American Idol winner's challengers for the CMA's top prize include Miranda Lambert, making for the first time since 1979 that two women performing as solo acts have appeared on the final Entertainer of the Year ballot. In '79, Barbara Mandrell and Crystal Gayle competed against that year's eventual winner, Willie Nelson.