Jennifer Lopez kicked off her All I Have residency at the AXIS at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, and while the show incorporated eight costume changes, guest appearances from Ne-Yo, Pitbull and Ja Rule, a sold-out crowd peppered with celebrities — including T.I., Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest and Rebel Wilson — plus a whole lot of Vegas-style glitz, it was a moment of emotional country music that delivered one of the show’s highlights and (literally) put the American Idol judge on a pedestal.
A longtime fan of Lee Ann Womack’s ubiquitous crossover smash “I Hope You Dance,” J. Lo performed the tune while dressed in a long, flowing gown that not only projected its own dazzling light show, but also got longer and longer as the singer was lifted far above the stage.
Dedicating the performance to her 7-year-old twins Emme and Max, a clearly emotional Lopez was fortunate enough to get through it without breaking down, telling ETonline.com, “In rehearsal, every time I sing the damn song I get choked up. Like, the dancers, they know me, the band they’re like, ‘She’s going to cry again.’ I can’t help it. It makes me emotional to think about them.”
Since its release the inspirational ballad written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers has touched the hearts of many musicians, especially outside the realm of country music. Irish singer Ronan Keating had a Number Two hit in the UK with it in 2004, and it has also been covered by R&B legend Gladys Knight, in Dutch by singer Glennis Grace, and by Emily Ann Roberts, who entered the blind auditions of The Voice with the song and went on to earn the runner-up spot during 2015’s season nine competition.
Of course, the song has been an American Idol favorite as well, with Lopez hand-picking the song for Lauren Alaina to perform as she competed in the Top Three. A pre-Idol Carrie Underwood recorded the song, while post-Idol the tune has been covered live by Kelly Clarkson and released as a single by David Archuleta.
In 2000, Womack performed the song at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, and in 2014, she sang it at the funeral of author and activist Maya Angelou. Womack’s original music video for “I Hope You Dance” features her young daughters Anna Lise and Aubrie. On January 29th, daughter Aubrie Sellers will release her debut LP New City Blues.