Lauren Alaina, Deana Carter and Ashley McBryde shared the stage during last month’s ACM Honors ceremony, honoring one of the evening’s awardees — songwriter Matraca Berg — with a medley of her own hits.
A multiple chart-topper who co-wrote her first Number One song, T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks’ early-Eighties staple “Faking Love,” when she was still a teenager, Berg has left a mark upon four decades of mainstream country music. Accordingly, Alaina kicked off the evening’s seven-minute tribute to Berg with a snippet of Berg’s most recent radio hit, “You and Tequila,” originally performed by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter. Her girl-group makeover of the song included Carter on background harmonies, with McBryde stepping into the spotlight after two minutes to helm an abridged performance of Trisha Yearwood’s “Wrong Side of Memphis.” Bluesy and brassy, the song was followed by Carter’s “Strawberry Wine,” which Berg penned with her “Wrong Side of Memphis” co-writer Gary Harrison.
Together, the three singers’ performance helped illustrate the full spread of Matraca Berg’s songwriting, whose melodies have helped shape everything from country music’s pop-leaning wing to the genre’s Americana cousin. Berg received the ACM Honors’ Poet’s Award later that evening, taking the stage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium to thank the singers who’ve lent their voices to her music.