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Dolly Parton, Katy Perry ACM Awards duet: Why pop stars perform at country awards

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L: Wade Payne/Invision/AP R: John Shearer/Invision/AP

(Read caption) L: Dolly Parton performs in Nashville, Tenn. in 2015. R: Katy Perry performs in Anaheim, Calif. in 2014.

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Dolly Parton will reportedly be taking the stage with pop singer Katy Perry at the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards.

During the ceremony, which will be held on April 3, the performance by the two singers will reportedly include Ms. Parton’s song “Coat of Many Colors.” 

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Parton's TV movie, "Coat of Many Colors," is the newest recipient of the ACM's Tex Ritter Award, which is given to a film that has country music.

Recommended:The 25 best country songs of all time (+video)

Meanwhile, Ms. Perry’s last album, “Prism,” was released in 2013. 

Perry would be far from the first pop artist to perform at a country music ceremony. Last year, singer Justin Timberlake’s performance at the CMA Awards with Chris Stapleton was called one of the show’s highlights. 

The band Fall Out Boy took the stage at that same CMA Awards, performing with singer Thomas Rhett.

What does having these performers from different genres bring to the country music awards ceremonies?

Viewers can benefit from pairing two artists who don’t necessarily produce the same kind of music. Following the performance of Timberlake and Stapleton at the CMA Awards, Slate writer Forrest Wickman wrote, “Whoever thought to pair the two singers together, for these two songs, deserves their own award … the two sounded like long-lost musical cousins.” 

However, it seems that the performance should feel organic. When Rhett performed with the band Fall Out Boy, Guardian writer Grady Smith found it to be “a gimmick shoved together by desperate producers.”

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In bringing together these unexpected groups, those behind country music awards shows may be inspired by the Grammy Awards, which frequently have musicians of different genres perform together. Like the country music performances, however, these can be for better or worse, writes Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times

“Along with the actual handing out of trophies, the annual Grammy Awards ceremony has become as much about unexpected ­– and sometimes utterly head-scratching – collaborations among disparate musicians,” Mr. Lewis wrote. 

Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich works to make many of those groupings happen and it seems his goal is to spark conversation.

“Since the '70s [Ehrlich] has been doing his level best to make television viewers perk up and ask ‘What the heck was that?’ with musical marriages,” Lewis wrote.

Whether the collaboration is a successful one, a surprising pairing is one way to get TV watchers interested.


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