Triple nominee and Best New Artist-hopeful Chris Stapleton is a Grade A performer but when he takes the stage Wednesday during country music’s biggest night, he’ll get a little help from a friend: Justin Timberlake. Stapleton revealed the billing Monday on Rolling Stone Country saying he cold-called Timberlake, who agreed to do the show on the spot.
“He was so gracious and kind to want to do it,” Stapleton said. “I’m excited to do it, it’s something I’ve never done before.” The two have not revealed what song they’ll be doing, though there are plenty from Stapleton’s acclaimed debut, Traveller, to choose from.
Timberlake has previously collaborated with country queen Reba McEntire on her track “The Only Promise That Remains,” and has said in years since that he would love to participate in country music more. Most explicitly, he told The Tennessean, “The next move for me is to sink some teeth in [Nashville]. I’ve done it before. I got a taste of it … it reminded me of the songs that my grandfather used to make me listen to when I was a kid — in a great way. It hit me, ‘Oh I wrote this song because of my childhood.’ It ended up being this thing that country radio wouldn’t play.”
The night will prove heavy on crossover duets. Keith Urban is slated to perform with his recent single’s namesake John Mellencamp while Thomas Rhett will be joined by Fall Out Boy.
The awards will air live on Wednesday evening, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.