Country music fans only found out Carrie Underwood would be performing at the 53rd Annual ACM Awards a few days before the actual ceremony. A week or so prior to the awards Carrie had slowly started sharing new photos on social media and teasing a big announcement. The announcement was her first new single, “Cry Pretty,” since 2016 and the reveal that, yes, she would be in Las Vegas and she would be performing for the first time since the 2017 CMA Awards.
For months after the CMA Awards Carrie was fairly silent on social media and even though she revealed to fans she just didn’t want to be in front of a camera after suffering serious injuries from a fall, there had still been no news on new music or concert dates. That’s what made this performance so different and so much more emotional– Carrie was on stage and every bit as good as she’s ever been, but you’ll note that she didn’t walk the red carpet before the show, she didn’t take a seat in the crowd prior to the announcement for Female Vocalist of the Year. She still wasn’t ready to be the center of attention.
— Al Kahn ?????? (@idolxfactor1) April 16, 2018
Throughout Carrie’s performance of “Cry Pretty,” there were moments of comfort for the superstar. She was hitting all the notes, but there wasn’t a lot of movement from her. She had access to the entire stage (a rarity for an awards show) but she chose to stick close to the center and the mic stand. About the time her guitarist came out for his solo Carrie really started to feel it again and looked like her old self. The whole thing was only about 4 minutes long, but in those few minutes you could actually see the comeback happening– it really did take time for her to adjust to the spotlight again.
There’s a good chance we will never really know what happened when Carrie fell or just what her face looked like, but if she keeps giving us moments like this, who cares? She can heal and adjust however she chooses. And clearly, no one in attendance at the show cared that she was gone for 6 months– they gave her a 39-second standing ovation, which is an insanely long amount of time for a live television event.
But, how could you not give this a standing O? It sounded like Prince was out there singing “Purple Rain.”
Welcome back, Queen. We missed you.