The 2011 Country Music Awards aired on ABC last night, and Nashville’s finest dusted off their boots and gussied themselves up for the national TV spotlight. For the second year in a row, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley (whose new record, This Is Country Music, is pretty great) proved themselves to be a surprisingly deft and wholly likeable hosting combo, particularly when they’re roasting Kim Kardashian over the spit in song form. There was no “big winner” of the night, per se, but The Band Perry took home a couple of awards (Best New Artist, Best Song for Song Of The Summer contender “If I Die Young”) and Taylor Swift took home the evening’s biggest prize, Entertainer of the Year.
However, the evening’s best moment didn’t involve pandering to Hollywood (Blake Shelton’s raucous version of “Footloose”) or even a huge, pyro-laden production number (sorry, Miranda Lambert!). It occured when Kenny Chesney and VH1 fave Grace Potter each slung an acoustic guitar over their shoulders, hopped on a stool and duetted on a positively gorgeous version of their hit, “You And Tequila.” Of course, we’re suckers for any and all things Grace (those stems!), but the way these two harmonized last night reminded us why we listen to country music in the first place. There’s no slick production, no glossy radio sound, just two great voices (and some palpable chemistry) blending together to make something special. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.