All of Nashville celebrated Dolly Parton at the CMA Awards when she was given the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award during the show. Actress Lily Tomlin introduced the award and ceded the stage to Pentatonix, Jennifer Nettles, Reba McEntire, Kacey Musgraves, Martina McBride, and Carrie Underwood, who all paid tribute to the legend with covers of her classic songs.
Pentatonix hit the CMA Awards stage on Wednesday with special guest Jennifer Nettles to perform an imaginative version of Parton’s classic “Jolene” at the 50th anniversary of the broadcast.
This isn’t the first time the group, who rose to fame on the third season of NBC’s The Sing-Off, have expressed their love for Parton and her classic tale of a desperate lover fighting for her man. In September, Pentatonix posted a YouTube video of them singing a rendition of the song with a surprise appearance by Parton herself, who took lead vocals as the Grammy-winning a cappella stars sang back-up.
Reba McEntire took the stage next, singing Parton’s classic “9 to 5” before Musgraves launched into her 1977 tune, “Here You Come Again.”
Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood then took over, singing “I Will Always Love You.” After the first verse, they were joined by Nettles, McEntire, and Musgraves for a cover that brought Parton to tears.
“This is an absolute high for me,” Parton joked when she accepted the award, making light of Willie Nelson’s penchant for marijuana. “I really am very proud to receive this.”