At home with kids, pets and spouses, country stars play on

NASHVILLE: Country music’s biggest stars should have been on the carpet of the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday in Las Vegas, but like most of America, they were homebound because of the coronavirus. Still, the musicians played on, surrounded by spouses, kids and — in one case — a horse.

“ACM Presents: Our Country,” a TV special aired on CBS in lieu of the delayed awards show, featured acoustic performances, special duets, clips from previous ACM Awards telecasts and a tribute to the late country icon Kenny Rogers. The country artists, spread out from coast to coast, shared details of their home lives, their hopes for the future and their best wishes for the emergency medical workers on the front lines.

Keith Urban, the host for the awards show that now will air in September, started the special with an acoustic version of “Wasted Time” from his home studio, which he joked felt like his living room. The only thing missing was his wife and actress Nicole Kidman, who has been seen dancing in some of Urban’s social media videos lately.

“Me, Nic, our girls, we all say thank you so much to all the first responders out there, everybody in the health care field all over. We thank you so much,” said Urban. “There’s an insurmountable amount of people who are out there on the front lines who are risking so much for so many.”

Three-piece country group Lady Antebellum showed the new reality for many working-from-home parents when they were joined by their kids in their performance of “What I’m Leaving For.”

Carrie Underwood, holding a glass of red wine sitting on a couch, sang an appropriately named song called “Drinking Alone,” finishing with a “Cheers!” and a sip.

Canadian superstar Shania Twain did have a small audience for her performance of “Honey, I’m Home” and “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” which included a sleepy dog and a curious horse, who at times blocked Twain’s face from the camera.

The casual performances were filled with little impromptu moments. Brad Paisley’s wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, played the role of camera operator as Paisley and Darius Rucker played together via video conference.

Dierks Bentley’s stomps on his porch in Colorado jiggled the camera and an off-camera crow cawed at him. Thomas Rhett’s home security alarm chimed in his video.