Dolly Parton couldn’t stop gushing over Kelly Clarkson’s moving tribute during the 57th ACM Awards in Las Vegas on Monday night (March 7). The pop icon and talkshow host took the stage to deliver her rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” one of Parton’s most legendary songs over the course of her decades-long career. Giving Clarkson one of the ultimate compliments, Parton added that another powerful artist would have been proud to see the show.
“That is so great! That’s so great, Kelly. I know that Whitney (Houston) is smiling down on us tonight… She’d be proud of that. I was backstage trying not to cry my false eyelashes off,” Parton exclaimed after the performance. “That was an amazing job.”
Clarkson announced last month on The Kelly Clarkson Show that she was “super stoked” to perform the “special tribute” in honor of Parton. The tribute comes as the two singers are teaming up on a new version of “9 to 5,” Parton’s iconic women’s anthem.
Parton released “I Will Always Love You” in the 1970s, and Houston, who died in 2012, followed with a flawless cover nearly two decades later. Last year, the country giant revealed on an episode of Watch What Happens Live that she used the royalty money from the song to buy “my big office complex down in Nashville,” explaining that it’s in a community of mostly Black families. Parton deemed it “perfect,” and called it “the house that Whitney built.”