Christina Aguilera has gone from dipping her toes in country music to diving right in. The singer’s appearance at this Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards comes just days after her guest-starring debut on ABC’s Nashville, on which she is playing a pop superstar who wants to do what she’d originally intended for her career: record a country album.
The sweeping ballad, “Shotgun” was written specifically for Aguilera’s Nashville character, “Jade St. John,” and will be featured on a future episode, with the actress-singer performing it inside the set’s makeshift Bluebird Café. But before she sings the love song as Jade, the New York native will perform “Shotgun” live alongside Rascal Flatts at the ACMs, then transitioning into the country trio’s latest hit, “Riot.”
“We are putting a different spin on the song for the awards,” Aguilera tells USA Today, “but it’s a quiet, beautiful song about true love that lasts a lifetime.”
Rascal Flatts deem Aguilera one of few people at the top of their dream collaborators list. And she’s no doubt a perfect fit for “Riot,” which hits challenging vocal heights.
“The vocal was a fluke,” lead singer Gary LeVox tells Rolling Stone Country, joking that he has to have an oxygen tank to sing “Riot.” “But it worked on that song and it’s a really fun song to sing. It claims and declares so much passion.”
Aguilera’s pairing with Rascal Flatts comes two years after her “Just a Fool” duet with ACM co-host Blake Shelton. She declared on Twitter last week that she’s rooting for Shelton’s wife, Miranda Lambert to win ACM Entertainer of the Year. Lambert, in fact, leads the pack of ACM nominees this year with eight nods, followed by Dierks Bentley with seven. The 50th annual ACM Awards will broadcast live from Arlington, Texas, Sunday, April 19th at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS.