Kelly Clarkson Nails "I Will Always Love You" Tribute to Dolly Parton at ACM Awards

The incredible performance brought Parton to tears!

The stars were out in full force at the Academy of Country Music Awards on March 7, 2022. There were performances from some of the biggest names in country music, from Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood to Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and the Queen of Country herself, Ms. Dolly Parton, alongside Kelsea Ballerini.

57th Academy Of Country Music Awards - Show
Getty Images / Jason Kempin

Once all the awards were given out, with Chris Stapleton and Carly Pearce winning big as this year's Male and Female Artist of the Year, there was one final surprise left in store. American Idol alum Kelly Clarkson took the stage to deliver a dazzling tribute performance honoring everyone's favorite country icon, and the night's host, Dolly Parton.

Rocking a regal black velvet gown, Clarkson performed Dolly Parton's hit "I Will Always Love You," adding another glorious version to the masterpieces written and performed first by Parton in 1974 and then recorded by Whitney Houston in 1992. The crowd went wild for Clarkson's performance, cheering louder and louder as the song reached a rousing apex in the final few verses.

And so did Dolly! After the performance, Parton came back on stage to thank Clarkson and close out the show. Ever the professional, Parton appeared cool and composed, but said it was a different story backstage.

"Oh my God. That was so great! I was backstage trying not to cry my false eyelashes off and slinging snot in every direction and tears," she said. "That was an amazing job, and I've just had a wonderful time being here tonight … Well, that just topped it off for me."

Parton also mentioned the late Houston, whose version the song helped cement its distinction as one of the most iconic ballads of all time, saying, "I know that Whitney is smiling down on us tonight, so thank you very much. She'd be proud of that."

This wasn't the first time Clarkson took on one of Parton's hits. She recently paired with the 76-year-old star to record a new version of "9 to 5" for a forthcoming documentary about the hit 1980 film starring Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin.

We absolutely loved Clarkson's rendition of "I Will Always Love You"! What did you think of her performance?

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