Kellie Pickler Honors Late Husband On Stage: 'He Is Here With Us Tonight'

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Kellie Pickler returned to the stage for the first time since her husband’s unexpected death last year, and performed a song the couple wrote together more than a decade ago. Pickler was part of the star-studded lineup of the Walkin’ After Midnight: The Music of Patsy Cline show, hosted at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

Picker, 37, admitted that she was “incredibly nervous” as she addressed the cheering crowd. The country singer-songwriter said it was “the first time I’ve been up on stage in a while. I will say that I am incredibly honored to be a part of honoring Ms. Patsy Cline. She is a huge reason why I fell in love with music, and my husband [Kyle Jacobs] and I actually wrote this song together, gosh, over a decade ago. The last time I was here in the Ryman Auditorium was with him on a date night. And I know he is here with us tonight.”

Pickler pledged that she’d “do the best I can,” and delivered a stunning rendition of “The Woman I Am.” The ballad served as the title track on the American Idol alum’s fourth full-length studio album, which arrived in November 2013. The lyrics reference late music legend Cline: “Sometimes I cry at night/ I fall to pieces with Patsy Cline/ Man how many songs sound like that?/ But that's just the woman I am.”

Jacobs died unexpectedly by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Metro Nashville Police Department officers confirmed his identity when they responded to the 911 call at the couple’s Nashville home, where Pickler was asleep at the time of the incident. Jacobs was 49. He was a country songwriter, vocalist and musician, playing guitar and piano. He was born in Bloomington, Minnesota. Pickler and Jacobs married in 2011. In addition to writing music together, they starred alongside one another in the CMT series I Love Pickler, a three-season reality show that premiered in 2015. Jacobs’ loss was mourned in an outpouring of tributes, including from Russell DickersonBrett YoungJana Kramer and Lee Brice, among others.

“One of the most beautiful lessons my husband taught me was in a moment of a crisis, if you don’t know what to do, ‘do nothing, just be still.’ I have chosen to heed his advice,” Pickler said when she shared her first public statement months after her husband’s death. “Thank you to my family, friends, and supporters, for the countless letters, calls, and messages that you have sent my way. It has truly touched my soul and it’s helping me get through the darkest time in my life. As many of you have told me, you are all in my prayers. I am planning an intimate memorial for my husband, which will happen later this fall, that is what Kyle would have wanted.”

The tribute show at the Ryman Auditorium also included Annie Bosko, Ashley McBryde, Beverly D'Angelo, Crystal Gayle, Dailey & Vincent, Grace Potter, Hailey Whitters, Home Free, Jaime Wyatt, Kristin Chenoweth, Mandy Barnett, Michelle Wright, Mickey Guyton, Natalie Grant, Rita Wilson, Pam Tillis, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Reyna Roberts, Tami Neilson, Tiera Kennedy, Tigirlily Gold and Wynonna, per the Ryman Auditorium.

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