The Grand Ole Opry has witnessed some pretty exceptional country music moments since its inception in the 1920s. The sheer importance and history behind that stage brings out the emotional response from performers, and they open their hearts up to give the audience their all.
And one of the most underrated songs to ever be sung on the stage, in my opinion, would be LeAnn Rimes’ rendition of “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which provided the female perspective of the 1980 George Jones‘ love song. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” received Song of the Year two years in a row (1980 and 1981) and withstood a remarkable 18 weeks in the number one spot on the Country Charts.
Needless to say, the song has been covered a plethora of times, but LeAnn Rimes really knocked it out of the park.
In 2011, LeAnn released a very non-typical style album called Lady & Gentlemen, which featured her version of some of the country music males’ top hits, including, Waylon Jennings’ “Good Hearted Woman,” John Anderson’s “Swingin’,” and Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name.”
Shockingly, LeAnn’s refined ability to hit practically any vocal note came second to the neat gender-role change in perspective she added to each of these originally-male releases.
However, the George Jones cover of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was the closest to LeAnn’s heart. The song shares a deep-cutting narrative of a man who only stopped loving a woman when he finally died, keeping a promise he had made to love her until his dying day.
In her Grand Ole Opry performance, LeAnn began with an opening explanation of her attachment to this particular track from Lady & Gentlemen:
“This is one of my all-time favorite songs… I think it’s the best song that’s ever been written in country music. And God bless George.”
In 1997, when LeAnn was only about 15 years old, she and George, along with Randy Travis co-hosted the TNN Music City News Country Awards.
She followed up her 2011 Grand Ole Opry introduction thanking George Jones with a stunning cover of his song, mesmerizing yet another crowd with her impeccable vocals and emotional response. The tears streaming down her face as she powered through the old classic spoke for themselves.
And even though this song has been covered and will be covered time and again, the LeAnn Rimes’ version just hits so different. It’s the kind of powerhouse performance even George Jones would give a nod to, or lend a closer ear to, if ya know what I mean.
Reba & LeAnn Rimes Duet “When You Love Someone Like That” At The 2007 CMA Awards
Throwback CMA performances are just an archive of greatness.
From new breakout singles, to live covers, and in this case a one-of-a-kind collaboration, these older award shows really categorize some of country’s greatest hits.
And you can’t have great hits without great vocals; that’s something that Reba McEntire and LeAnn Rimes have never ran short on.
Arguably, their stripped-down vocals are some of the rawest we have ever seen from female country artists, and it definitely shines through on their performance of duet, “When You Love Someone Like That” at the 2007 CMA Awards.
The heart-wrenching single opens with LeAnn singing solo on the first verse. In an almost internal-conversation, the lyrics paint a picture of a girl trying to convince herself that a romantic falling-out wasn’t her fault:
“Girl it ain’t right, it just ain’t right, don’t tell yourself that it was you.
You followed your heart, you gave it your best, there’s nothing more you can do…”
This is definitely a must-have on any teenage girl’s breakup playlist.
And LeAnn’s lonely single-sided conversation leaves you feeling nothing but empathy for her and her narration of the events. But as the verse winds to a close, Reba’s easily identifiable voice shines through, joining LeAnn for the power-punch chorus.
The collaboration gives the song a whole new structure, now making it less lonely and more of a mother-daughter conversational feel, as Reba repeats the identical verse back to LeAnn, giving her some seasoned advice from someone who’s been there before and sharing: “there’s nothing more you can do.”
Before opening up her CMA performance on stage that night, LeAnn shared with the crowd that Reba was her idol in the country music industry.
“I grew up studying every move this woman made. She is a strong, fearless, class act who is more powerful than ever 30 years into her career.
A lifelong dream of mine was fulfilled recently for an album of duets. The woman I’m speaking of is Reba”
LeAnn then kicked off the powerful performance with Reba joining in, and if this isn’t first-class harmony, I don’t know what is… absolutely stunning.