Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker debut their emotional rendition of Elvis Presley’s hit song “In The Ghetto” on Wednesday (Nov. 11) at the 54th annual CMA Awards.
The CMA Awards hosts paid tribute to the late Mac Davis with their touching performance.
“I sang this song in the eighth grade for a 4-H talent show,” McEntire told Billboard. “I’ve been friends with Mac for years… When we decided to pay tribute to him, I knew it had to be this song. I’m so glad Darius said yes when I asked him to sing it with me.”
“We met Mac back in the Hootie days, and he was always good to me,” Rucker added. “[He] always made me laugh, always made me feel like what I was doing was good. He’s always just been one of those guys that does that.”
“The song is still relevant because the words still ring true today, as much as they did when Mac wrote them,” Rucker says. “It’s just amazing how a song can stand the test of time like that.”
“We’re still dealing with inequality in our world — social, racial, financial — the cycle hasn’t been broken yet,” adds McEntire.
The country superstars recorded the new track last month. Following their CMA Awards performance, the studio recording of the tune will become available on all streaming platforms tonight at midnight EST.
“In The Ghetto” was originally titled “The Vicious Circle” and was recorded by Rock ‘N Roll Icon Elvis Presley in 1969 and written by three-time CMA Awards host Mac Davis. The song became a major hit in 1969 as part of Presley’s comeback album with “Any Day Now” as the flip side.
Davis died on Sept. 29, 2020, following the news that he was critically ill after undergoing heart surgery in Nashville. He was 78 years old.
Davis was a celebrated artist and songwriter. He was inducted into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998 and became a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000. He was also inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and honored with the BMI Icon Award in 2015.
The 54th Annual CMA Awards also featured performances from Chris Stapleton, Rascal Flatts, Morgan Wallen, Miranda Lambert, Luke Combs, Eric Church, Jon Pardi, Keith Urban, Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Old Dominion and Kelsea Ballerini.
Additionally, the show included star-studded collaborations by Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Gabby Barrett and Charlie Puth, Carly Pearce with Charles Kelley, Thomas Rhett together with McEntire, Chris Tomlin and Hillary Scott, as well as Darius Rucker featuring Lady A. The show opener featured an all-star performance from Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Jenee Fleenor and Ashley McBryde paying tribute to the late Charlie Daniels.
Hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker, “Country Music’s Biggest Night” aired on Wednesday, November 11 (live 8:00-11:00 PM ET) on ABC.