Kelly Clarkson Honors Dolly Parton With ‘I Will Always Love You’ Performance at ACM Awards

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Kelly Clarkson paid tribute to country legend Dolly Parton at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards with a touching performance of “I Will Always Love You.”

Hosted by Parton and taking place at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the ACM Awards are streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in a two-hour format with limited commercials.

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After Clarkson’s performance, Parton said, “I know that Whitney is smiling down tonight” and that she was backstage “trying not to cry my eyelashes off and slinging snot in every direction.”

The last time Parton hosted the ACM Awards was in 2000, but she has since hosted the rival Country Music Association Awards twice. Ahead of the show, she told Variety she was looking forward to hearing Clarkson’s spin on her iconic song.

“Can’t wait to her her sing that one,” Parton said of “I Will Always Love You.” “With that voice of hers, it’ll have to be incredible.”

Parton also said, “I’ve worked stadiums before. I’ve done that for years. When I worked with Kenny Rogers and some of those people, we would work some of the biggest arenas and stadiums. I’m never bothered by the size of the crowd. The more, the merrier for me, I love the people. They’re all the same. They’re my fans and I love them. And they have come to support me as well. It’s just a bigger kind of a deal. And being in Vegas is always great, but there are a lot of new things with this one.”

Tonight’s show featured more live music than a traditional awards show, with performance segments lasting up to 30 minutes without interruption. Early performers on the show included Walker Hayes, the co-hosting duo of Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett, and Eric Church with Ashley McBryde.

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