Ed Sheeran and Luke Combs surprised viewers with a special duet at the 2023 ACM Awards on Thursday (May 11).
Together, the pair delivered a performance of Sheeran’s “Life Goes On” at the Ford Center’s The Star in Frisco, Texas. In the shocking moment, Sheeran turned his new song into a duet with Combs.
“To tell me how, how my life goes on with you gone? / I suppose I’ll sink like a stone / If you leave me now, oh, the storms will roll / Easy come, hard go, then life goes on,” they sang on the tune’s chorus.
Following their unexpected performance, Garth Brooks stepped back onto the stage to ask Sheeran and Combs about their friendship.
“I heard Luke’s music through a friend then I posted something online and we got in touch. We just been friends for like 5 years now, it’s been great,” Sheeran explained with a big smile on his face.
Ed Sheeran and Luke Combs previously joined forces at the O2 Arena to perform a duet of “Dive,” a track co-written by Sheeran alongside Benny Blanco and Julia Michaels.
Combs often covers Sheeran’s “Dive” during concerts of his own, which is met with great reception by fans. After he began performing the song live, he released the cover as a Spotify Originals Exclusive.
Solely penned by Ed Sheeran, “Life Goes On” appears on Sheeran’s fifth studio album, – (Subtract), which arrived on May 5. The tune serves as a tribute to his late friend, Jamal Edwards.
“I basically lived in his bedroom. His mum thought we were having a relationship,” Sheeran explained of the tune in his latest documentary, The Sum Of It All. “Jamal died in the morning. I was at his mum’s house at midday. It’s Caribbean culture, you go to the family home for nine days and nine nights. On the ninth night, they throw a big party. Grief instantly ends your youth. The funeral was like 30 people but he knows like 10,000 people.”
The 32-year-old hitmaker continued, “My best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly and I found myself standing in court defending my integrity and career as a songwriter,” he recalled. “I was spiraling through fear, depression and anxiety. I felt like I was drowning, head below the surface, looking up but not being able to break through for air.”
– (Subtract) is an album of despair, grief and hope and all of the songs on the project were written after working through a really difficult period in his life.
Sheeran also shared that this is one of his most vulnerable albums to date lyrically.
“For the first time I’m not trying to craft an album people will like, I’m merely putting something out that’s honest and true to where I am in my adult life. This is last February’s diary entry and my way of making sense of it. This is Subtract,” he said.
Produced by Aaron Dessner, the project features 14 tracks, including his current single “Boat” and the fan-favorite tunes “Curtains,” “Dusty,” “End Of Youth,” “Salt Water” and more.
– (Subtract) concludes his mathematical albums era and follows + (Plus), x (Multiply), ÷ (Divide) and = (Equal).
Additionally, Ed Sheeran is currently embarking on his massive North American stadium tour, known as the “+ – = ÷ x Tour” a.k.a. “The Mathematics Tour.”
The trek kicked off in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium on May 6 and is set to run through September 23, where The Mathematics Tour will wrap up in Inglewood, CA at SoFi Stadium.
Special guests Khalid (May 6 – Sept. 2), Russ (Sept. 9 – 23), Dylan, Rosa Linn, Cat Burns, and Maisie Peters will appear on select dates of the trek.
Meanwhile, Luke Combs is currently in the midst of his 2023 World Tour, which kicked off on March 25 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and runs through October 19 when it’s set to wrap up in London, England at The O2 Arena.
The 58th Academy of Country Music Awards featured performances by Jason Aldean, Jordan Davis, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Dolly Parton, Jelly Roll, Ed Sheeran, HARDY, Keith Urban, The War And Treaty, Lainey Wilson, Bailey Zimmerman and more.
Nine awards were announced during the live broadcast, including Entertainer of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Duo of the Group, Group of the Year, Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Song of the Year, and Music Event of the Year. Several winners were also announced ahead of the show.
Additionally, “Country Music’s Party Of The Year” featured a star-studded list of collaborations and unforgettable moments. Reigning ACM Female Artist Of The Year Carly Pearce teamed up with Trisha Yearwood to perform a special medley of in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Yearwood winning Female Artist Of The Year.
Meanwhile, Cole Swindell joined forces with Jo Dee Messina to deliver an epic performance of the “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” remix and Ashley McBryde took fans to Lindeville with a performance of “Bonfire At Tina’s.”
Gabby Barrett, BRELAND, Brandy Clark, Jordan Davis, Mickey Guyton, Tyler Hubbard, Dustin Lynch, T.J. Osborne, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, MacKenzie Porter, Dak Prescott, Emmitt Smith, Tanya Tucker, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood served as presenters during the ceremony.
The two-hour awards show streamed live for a global audience across 240+ countries and territories exclusively on Prime Video and the Amazon Music channel on Twitch.
Co-hosted by country music icons Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks, the 2023 ACM Awards broadcasted live from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas at 7/6c.