Underwood, 37, and Aldean, 44, reflected on their upbringings in an emotional video package before hitting the stage on Sunday, November 21.
“My hometown is very small,” the “Cowboy Casanova” songstress said of Checotah, Oklahoma. “I feel like Oklahoma overall is just a string of small towns. The next small town isn’t that far away. You kind of know everybody or everybody’s families.”
Underwood continued: “Home is home. It’s the one place I feel like I can truly be myself. I’m so blessed to be able to live in Nashville and I feel like the only other place I could live in this world would be Oklahoma. It’s Checotah or Nashville, there is no in between.”
Aldean, for his part, got emotional as he looked back on his 16-year career, which began in his hometown of Macon, Georgia.
The duo belted out their collaboration in matching black ensembles with a pair of string artists accompanying them. Ahead of the performance, Underwood won the AMAs for Favorite Female Country Artist and Favorite Inspirational Artist.
Earlier this month, the American Idol season 4 winner and “Dirt Road Anthem” singer performed the track live for the first time at the 2021 Country Music Awards. Underwood wore a tulle skirt for the powerful performance, while Aldean was dressed in all-black.
That same night, the “Before He Cheats” songstress made headlines for her less than impressed face after host Luke Bryan’s “immunized” joke. The comment came days after her husband, Mike Fisher, defended Aaron Rodgers amid his coronavirus vaccine controversy.
Underwood and Aldean debuted their duet in September, which was their first official joint studio single. However, the collaboration between the country superstars was years in the making. The two had previously performed a cover of Guns N’ Roses‘ “Paradise City” at the 2010 CMA Fest.
The Calia by Carrie Underwood designer admitted that the decision to hop on the track was an easy one. “Jason asked if I would sing ‘If I Didn’t Love You’ with him,” she said via a press release in October. “I knew I liked the song, and Jason and I have actually been kind of trying to do things together over the years. We’ve sang together before, but we’ve never officially recorded anything together. It just kind of felt like this could be our moment.”
Underwood realized that “If I Didn’t Love You” might seem like “a little bit of an unexpected duet to other people, but I feel like I kinda always knew at some point I’d probably sing with him officially, and this just seemed like, the stars were aligning, and it just seemed like it was going to be the perfect fit.”
Working with the “Big Green Tractor” musician on the song was different than she had expected — it was better.
While Aldean had originally worked on the track alone, the pair ended up finishing it together in the studio. “[It] added to the vibe of everything to have him there when I was recording my stuff,” she said last month. “We were able to bounce things off of each other and get feedback in real time, which is really cool.”
The “Blown Away” performer is nominated for Favorite Female Artist — Country during the 2021 AMAs alongside Kacey Musgraves, Gabby Barrett, Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert. The “Good Girl” singer is also gearing up for a Las Vegas residency, which opens in December.
The “She’s Country” crooner released his 10th studio album, Macon, earlier this month, which features “If I Didn’t Love You.”