In honor of Reba McEntire, country star Kelly Clarkson delivered a speech — and an emotional performance of the 63-year-old songwriter’s 1990 classic “Fancy” — during the 41st annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in Washington D.C. earlier this month, according to E! News. The ceremony was then broadcast on Wednesday evening on CBS.
Before belting out the tune, Clarkson shared a bit of the impact that McEntire has had on her life.
“I’ve been a fan of Reba since I was a little girl,” Clarkson explained. “Her voice has always felt nostalgic for me. Even as an adult, there’s something about her tone and her storytelling that just feels like home.”
Clarkson is more than just a fan of the singer — she’s family. McEntire is the grandmother to Clarkson’s children, as the American Idol star married the country idol’s stepson in 2013, according to Country Living.
“Sometimes when we meet our heroes, it doesn’t always pan out how you hope. But meeting Reba, being friends with her and eventually becoming family has been one of the highlights of my life, truly,” the 36-year-old The Voice judge continued.
Clarkson then choked up as she spoke about McEntire’s relationship with her family.
“So, thank you so much Reba for listening to me vent as an artist. Thank you so much for comforting me on the phone through my tears like a friend. And thank you for being a really rad grandma to my kids,” Clarkson concluded.
Before hitting the opening notes of “Fancy,” Clarkson added that she loves McEntire — and asked not to be judged for her performance, adding some humor to the emotional message.
What followed was a sassy performance of the country hit, which peaked at No. 8 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart. McEntire happily gave a standing ovation at the end of Clarkson’s cover, along with the rest of the audience.
Clarkson and McEntire have shared many performances, including a duet in 2007 of Clarkson’s hit “Because of You.” They also toured together in 2008.
McEntire married guitarist Narvel Blackstock, the stepfather of Clarkson’s husband Brandon, in 1989. They were later divorced in 2015, two years after Clarkson married into the family.
Despite the divorce, McEntire remained close to Clarkson’s family, including her children — son Remington “Remy” Alexander, 2, and daughter River Rose, 4 — whom Clarkson and Blackstock share. Reba McEntire has also remained close to Blackstock’s son from a previous marriage, Seth, 11, and daughter Savannah, 16.
“It was a lot better when everybody was not so busy, but I’ve got seven grandchildren, so they’re scattered all over the country and busy doing stuff. But I love them,” McEntire told People in April, joking that she never sees her grandchildren.