Then there was Mary Chapin Carpenter putting Dwight Yoakam on blast (allegedly) with her song “Opening Act.” And of course the time the late, great Charlie Rich got shitfaced and lit John Denver’s award envelope on fire.
Kellie Pickler won the country’s heart when she burst onto the scene while appearing on American Idol back in 2006 (back when people actually cared about those kind of shows).
During her time on the show, Kellie was extremely candid about the personal struggles she’d dealt with when it came to her relationship with her parents.
Kellie was raised by her grandparents after her mother left her when she was 2 years old, and her father spent much of Kellie’s childhood in and out of prison.
In October 2006, Kellie released her debut album Small Town Girl. And the second single from the album, “I Wonder,” was a deeply personal message to her mother.
“I think about how it ain’t fair That you weren’t there to braid my hair like mothers do You weren’t around to cheer me on Help me dress for my high school prom like mothers do Did you think I didn’t need you here To hold my hand, to dry my tears? Did you even miss me through the years at all?”
At the 2007 CMA Awards, Kellie was nominated for the Horizon Award (now known as New Artist of the Year). And while the award ultimately went to another up-and-comer named Taylor Swift, it was Kellie who ended up stealing the show that night with her performance of “I Wonder.”
An emotional Pickler broke down during the song before receiving a standing ovation for the heartbreaking performance. But a little while later, Kellie would reveal just why the performance was so emotional for her.
In an interview with People, Kellie revealed that she had struggled with adjusting to fame – falling into a depression and turning to antidepressants to help her navigate her new lifestyle.
But just before the CMA Awards, she decided to stop taking the medication that, as she put it, made her feel like “a zombie.”
“The CMAs were right after I’d gone off the pills, so my body still needed them. I was an emotional wreck.”
That wasn’t all though. Right before her performance, Kellie found out that her estranged mother, who she hadn’t spoken to in 12 years, had given an interview on television talking about why she had abandoned Kellie all those years ago.
“Then 10 minutes before I went onstage, I got a call saying my mom was on TV. I hadn’t seen her in years. I felt like, “Tonight I’m good enough?” It really hurt. My hands shook all during the song. Then I lost it.”
The end result was a powerful, emotion-filled performance that brought Kellie and the audience to tears – and to their feet.
It’s the kind of performance that you don’t often see at these awards shows, which are usually filled with bland personalities and forgettable performances.
Which is why this is one performance we’re still talking about today.