ACM’s Salute to the Troops Hits Home With Patriotic Fans

Carrie Underwood Debuts New Song at Las Vegas Taping

LAS VEGAS — Luke Bryan, The Band Perry and Carrie Underwood are just three of the artists who provided a swell of patriotic pride at during the taping of ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops on Monday night (April 7) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Underwood unveiled “Keep Us Safe,” a brand new song she wrote specifically for the show. With a poignant message set to a dramatic melody, the sweeping ballad serves as one of Underwood’s most message-driven songs.

Some of the artists, like Dierks Bentley and Tim McGraw, sang their own material, while other country stars teamed with military members to deliver a memorable performance. Over the course of nearly three hours, there were no false notes. Toby Keith and Kellie Pickler each partnered with a talented soldier, and you could tell everybody on stage gave it their all.

As the first performers of the night, George Strait and Merle Haggard set the tone with a rousing duet of Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me.” After that, the Eli Young Band kept the energy high with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps,” while Keith Urban and Hunter Hayes stood toe-to-toe with gifted musicians from the military, earning standing ovations along the way.

Other highlights included Lee Brice’s subdued performance of “I Drive Your Truck,” which won the ACM award for song of the year the night before, as well as Lady Antebellum’s bright rendition of “Compass.” On the latter song, the addition of two musicians from the military brought out the elements of comfort and security in the lyrics.

Near the end of the evening, Florida Georgia Line performed “People Back Home,” a rap-inflected tune that gives a voice to soldiers overseas who are missing their families. On the other end of the spectrum, a pre-taped performance of the poetic “Over You” with Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton had almost everyone reaching for a tissue.

The two-hour special will air May 20 on CBS.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.