The powerhouse vocalist performed Parton's 1973 classic "I Will Always Love You." Accompanied by a piano, Clarkson's stripped-down rendition nodded to both the song's writer and Whitney Houston, who famously made the song her own.
"I know Whitney is smiling down on us tonight," Parton said, following Clarkson's performance.
The country icon told the audience that Clarkson's performance brought her to tears and she was backstage "trying not to cry my eyelashes off and slinging snot in every direction."
On Feb. 23, Clarkson, a two-time ACM winner herself, announced that she'd be performing at the awards.
Parton herself, along with Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett, co-hosted the awards. The "9 to 5" singer and Kelsea Ballerini also performed a duet together during the ceremony. Other artists who perfomed on the special night included Luke Bryan, Mitchell Tenpenny, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Brothers Osborne, Carly Pearce, Brittney Spencer, Eric Church, Jordan Davis, Maren Morris, Chris Stapleton, Walker Hayes, Ashley McBryde and more.
This year Chris Young led the ACM nominations, with Walker Hayes and Miranda Lambert close behind. A surprise competitor, Blake Lively, received two nominations for directing and producing Taylor Swift's music video for "I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version). "
The 57th Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM Awards) take place on Mon., March 7 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The show airs exclusively on Amazon Prime starting at 8 p.m. EST. Check Wide Open Country for full coverage before, during and after the broadcast.
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