Kelsea Ballerini Praises ‘Strong, Beautiful, Iconic’ Crystal Gayle at 2016 ACM Honors
Country-pop pioneer Crystal Gayle was one of the recipients of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award at the 2016 ACM Awards on Aug. 30 in Nashville. The singer of 20 No. 1 hits and winner of multiple ACM Awards was honored during the show by Kelsea Ballerini, just one of the younger artists whom Gayle has influenced over the years. Ballerini took the stage at the Ryman Auditorium to sing Gayle's 1977 crossover hit "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," and she couldn't help gushing over the singer before the show.
"It's freaking me out that she even knows who I am!" Ballerini told The Boot. "She's just such a legend and such a strong, beautiful, iconic female in this format, so it's really cool to be able to honor her."
Ballerini's performance was a first for both her and for Gayle. On the red carpet before the show, The Boot asked Gayle about what it would be like for her to hear someone else singing her legendary song.
"Well, I'm going to find out for the first time!" Gayle said with a laugh. "I'm sure it's going to be so exciting. It will be the first time I've heard someone sing my signature song without me up there singing. It will be great."
Gayle says she can still identify with the young and up-and-coming artists, such as Ballerini, because she was once there herself.
"As I look at all the new acts and I think back at the time when I started out and ... I know what's going on in a lot of these artists' [minds]," Gayle says, adding that her newest ACM honor is one that she will treasure because of the long road of her career. "For me, tonight, it's just a wonderful evening -- so much I can be thankful for."
Fans can watch Ballerini's heartfelt performance of "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" and the complete tribute to Gayle when the ACM Honors air on TV for the very first time on Sept. 9. The show will begin at 9PM ET on CBS.
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