Watch Melissa Etheridge, Kelsea Ballerini's Powerful Cross-Genre Duet

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Melissa Etheridge made her country music awards show debut at the 2024 CMT Music Awards on Sunday (April 7), hosted at Moody Center in Austin, Texas. The legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist donned a cowboy hat as she walked the red carpet before joining host Kelsea Ballerini on stage for a surprise duet later that evening.

Catching up with iHeartRadio, Etheridge said she feels “welcomed” among many artists she already knows who foster a “friendly” energy at the annual show. The rocker looked ahead to seeing Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson, Brittney Spencer — “I’ve loved her whole career and how she’s been growing” — and Mickey Guyton, to name a few.

Etheridge surprised the Moody Center crowd when she joined Ballerini on stage during the show. Ballerini noted that Luke Combs’ rendition of “Fast Car,” originally released by singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman in the 80s, “was one of hte biggest songs of the year.” The award-winning cover made Chapman the first Black woman to win a CMA Award, the Country Music Association confirmed, and led to an iconic performance when Combs and Chapman shared the stage together at the 66th Grammy Awards earlier this year.

“You know what? It had me thinking, I want ‘in’ on some of that action,” Ballerini addressed the CMT crowd as she referenced “Fast Car.” “So, I was thinking, what huge throwback hit could be my thing? And then it came to me.”

Ballerini began her rendition of Etheridge’s 1993 rock ballad, “Come To My Window,” joined by the original artist herself. Etheridge suggested afterward that the pair should “get our own” CMT Crossroads special, which features collaborative performances between country artists and singers from other genres. Ballerini agreed, “I like the way you’re thinkin’.”

Etheridge “instantly” said “yes” to attending the 2024 CMT Music Awards, she said. “Country music is kind of one of the last places where a singer-songwriter can really feel at home.” When asked which artists she’d include on a personalized playlist, Etheridge listed Beyoncé’s “16 Carriages” on her record-breaking, country-themed album, Wilson, Spencer, Yola, Brandi Carlile and many others.

The “I’m the Only One” icon is gearing up to debut a tw-part documentary this summer. The docuseries, set to premiere in July on Paramount+, focuses on Etheridge’s visit to a women’s correctional facility in Kansas. Melissa Etheridge: I’m Not Broken chronicles her connections with five of the residents in the facility and sees her perform original music for them. “It’s about the power of music and how we can lift people up,” she told iHeartRadio. “I’m really proud of it.”

Watch Etheridge and Ballerini perform “Come To My Window” here:

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