Now that Charles Kelley’s debut solo LP The Driver has made its way into the world, the lanky Lady Antebellum singer is seemingly popping up everywhere.
Last night he made an appearance during his former tourmate Sam Hunt’s private late night show at the Ryman Auditorium, which was held for Country Radio Seminar attendees and invited media guests. Hunt introduced Kelley during his mid-set acoustic section, which followed selections from his album Montevallo as well as his own versions of hits like “Cop Car” and “We Are Tonight.”
Hunt’s guitarist Tyrone Carreker led the acoustic section with a smoky rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” then Hunt introduced Kelley. The pair shared vocals on a medley of songs performed by women, including Reba McEntire’s “Fancy,” Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love With the Boy” and Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” Vocal duties went back to Carreker for the Destiny’s Child hit “Say My Name,” with Kelley ad-libbing responses to each line and folding in a tiny bit of Erykah Badu’s “Call Tyrone” for laughs. The section closed with lively runs through Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” plus a reverent crowd sing-along on Deana Carter’s immortal “Strawberry Wine.”
For his part, Hunt was gracious and thanked the radio tastemakers for playing his songs like “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time” even when they were considerably different than anything else at the time. Nodding to the criticism he frequently faces from staunch traditionalists, he played a section of Waylon Jennings’ “Belle of the Ball” and said he’d rather adopt Jennings’ strategy of shaking things up than being a pale imitation.
That approach is clearly paying off for Hunt — during the show he was presented with a plaque noting the double platinum success of Montevallo.