Fog billowed across the stage as Allen perched at the piano and opened the song, his voice wrapping around the emotional, unifying lyrics like warm honey.
He sings: 7:30 out of Nashville| Airplane bottles on my tray|The heavens get to shaking| It’s a stranger’s hand I’m taking| We pray, hmm, yeah
Monica and Little Big Town emerged to join him as scenes of people from different religions praying, peaceful protests and candle vigils filter across the screen.
They sing: I’ve been losing my religion| I’ve been in and out of faith| What it is and what it isn’t | Well, it’s not for me to say| We stand in different churches| And we call it different names| But in the end, we pray, hey-hey
“As soon as I heard this song, I felt like it was too big for just me,” Allen said. “I felt like I wanted some help with it, and I wanted to pull in other artists that had something special about them.”
Allen said the CMT Music Awards performance is the first time the artists have sung the song together in the same room. He wanted their on-stage moment to focus on love, hope, peace, and people struggling.
“We all pray for different things,” he said. “We pray for financial help. We pray for fixed relationships. We pray for help after natural disasters. And we pray for peace. It all should be unifying. I don’t think any one group of people should ever have all the focus when it comes to struggles. We all struggle. It’s important to take care of yourself, but we’re not the only people going through things.”
If you missed the performance the first time, catch CMT Music Awards Extended Cut at 8 p.m. (ET) April 15 on CMT. The bonus version comes with 30 additional minutes of new performances and extra content.