Elvis Presley made "In the Ghetto" famous when he recorded it for his 1969 album From Elvis in Memphis. It became a global sensation, reaching No. 1 in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and West Germany.
McEntire sang that familiar first verse before Rucker joined her for Davis' well-intentioned plea for social empathy.
A medley of Davis' country hits would've been a history lesson worth sharing, but instead we got a McEntire duet of a song most associate with Presley. On the bright side, there was something on the broadcast for old souls instead of yet another performance of a contemporary hit.
At midnight EST, McEntire and Rucker's cover got an official release via major streaming platforms.
"Thank you, dear Lord Jesus, for letting us know the man to whom you gave the most incredible talent," McEntire said of Davis in a statement. "He entertained and spread joy to so many people. What a wonderful legacy he left all of us with his music. Mac was one of a kind. I'm so blessed to have been one of his many friends."
Davis, a 78-year-old native of Lubbock, wrote other songs made famous by Presley, such as "Don't Cry Daddy," "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" and Billy Strange co-write "A Little Less Conversation." As a recording artist, Davis' pop hits "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me," "Stop and Smell the Roses," "One Hell of a Woman," "Watching Scotty Grow" and "It's Hard to Be Humble" transcended country music. He won the ACM's Entertainer of the Year award in 1974 and co-hosted the CMA Awards alongside Barbara Mandrell from 1980 to 1982.
Other CMA Awards tributes to country stars we lost this year include an all-star tribute to Charlie Daniels, Jon Pardi's rendition of Joe Diffie's "Pickup Man" and Little Big Town's celebration of Kenny Rogers.