WATCH: Kelly Clarkson Makes Dolly Parton Proud with Emotional ‘I Will Always Love You’ Performance at ACM Awards

Kelly Clarkson; Photo Courtesy ACM Awards, Prime Video
Kelly Clarkson; Photo Courtesy ACM Awards, Prime Video
Kelly Clarkson; Photo Courtesy ACM Awards, Prime Video

Kelly Clarkson’s show-stopping tribute to the great country music icon Dolly Parton will go down as one of the most iconic performances in Academy of Country Music Awards history.

The award-winning singer and host of The Kelly Clarkson Show honored Parton with a tribute performance of “I Will Always Love You” during the 57th Academy Of Country Music Awards on Monday, March 7. 

The performance was so impressive that it left fans anxiously awaiting their soon-to-be released “9 to 5” duet, which will appear on the forthcoming Still Working 9 to 5 Documentary.

“I Will Always Love You” is a song solely penned by Parton that was made wildly popular by Whitney Houston, and appears on The Bodyguard soundtrack, released in 1992.

After Clarkson’s performance, Parton joined her on stage and sweetly shared, “I know that Whitney is smiling down on us tonight.” 

The entertainment icon admitted she was holding back tears while watching. 

“I was backstage trying not to cry my false eyelashes off and throw snot everywhere,” she quipped, adding, “That just topped it off for me!” 

Ahead of Clarkson’s tribute, the co-host of the 2022 ACM Awards admitted that the Texas native’s performance will be a memorable one.

“It makes me feel great that she’s going to be doing it, because Kelly is one of the greatest singers in the world,” Parton shared with Entertainment Tonight. “It’s one thing for people to do a tribute, you know, it’s going to be pretty good, but with her, you know it’s going to be real good. I do love her to death. I love her personality. I just love the way she is. I have known her for a long time… so that is going to be special to me, of course.”

Kelly Clarkson, a two-time ACM Award winner, previously shared that she is “super stoked” to pay tribute to the East Tennessee native.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Academy of Country Music (ACM) (@acmawards)

The 57th Academy of Country Music Awards aired on Monday, March 7, exclusively on Prime Video at 8/7c

Co-hosted by Parton with Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett, the two-hour show livestreamed without commercials and featured 20+ performances from some of country music’s hottest superstars and rising newcomers.

The performance lineup included Parker McCollum and Lainey Wilson, who were crowned this year’s New Male and New Female Artist of the Year, respectively as well as Barrett, Allen, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Walker Hayes, Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, and Lady A.

Dolly Parton, Kelly Clarkson; Photo Courtesy ACM Awards, Prime Video
Dolly Parton, Kelly Clarkson; Photo Courtesy ACM Awards, Prime Video

“The concert event of the year” also included several collaborations, including Parton featuring Kelsea Ballerini (“Big Dreams & Faded Jeans”), BRELAND featuring Thomas Rhett (“Praise The Lord”), Jordan Davis (“Buy Dirt,” feat. Luke Bryan), Brothers Osborne and Brittney Spencer (“These Boots Are Made for Walkin’”), Parmalee and Blanco Brown featuring Brooke Eden (“Just the Way”), Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde (“Never Wanted to Be That Girl”), and Chris Young featuring Mitchell Tenpenny (“At the End of a Bar”).

The 2022 ACM Awards presenters included Alan Ritchson (actor, Reacher), Derek Carr (quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders), Guy Torry (comedian, Phat Tuesdays), James Patterson (author, Run Rose Run), Jason Aldean, Kelsey Asbille (actor, Yellowstone), Luke Grimes (actor, Yellowstone), Mickey Guyton, and Tom Pelphrey (actor, Outer Range).

The ACM Awards made history as the first major awards show to livestream exclusively as it  streamed live on Prime Video in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.