Jimmie Allen was given a performance slot during the ACM Awards on Sunday after winning New Male Artist of the Year, taking the stage at The Bluebird Cafe with his song "Freedom Was a Highway." The track is actually a duet with Brad Paisley, and Allen got a major surprise in the middle of the performance when Paisley, who had told Allen he was out of town, walked right into the room and started to sing.
Ahead of Allen's performance on the broadcast, Paisley appeared in his truck, telling the camera that he was about to surprise his friend. The camera then cut to Allen, who sang the first verse and chorus of his song before Paisley walked into the venue, clearly surprising his duet partner, who laughed and shook his head. "Had a great time performing with @bradpaisley and my guys on the @acmawards," Allen wrote on Instagram after the show. "Thanks for driving up to hang and share some notes with me Brad."
"Freedom Was a Highway" appears on Allen's 2020 EP Bettie James and was released as a single in January. The song was written by Allen, Ash Bowers and Matt Rogers and looks back on younger days when "That town was the whole world / Love was the girl next door / Soundtrack was a song in the dark."
"When I was writing this song with my co-writers, I imagined myself driving down my favorite roads in Delaware," Allen previously said in a statement. "This song takes me back to simpler moments such as an innocent, childhood crush on the next-door neighbor or feeling freedom in the wind as you drive with the windows down. I’ve loved this song from the creation. I’m a huge admirer of Brad Paisley. I love what he brings to music and I had to have him bring that same magic to this song. I’m humbled to have him join me on this song – he brought the Freedom to the Highway."
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The Delaware native was named New Male Artist of the Year around one week before the ACMs, receiving the news in a video card from show co-host Keith Urban. "This is special," Allen wrote on Instagram after receiving the news. "I hardly ever celebrate but im gonna sit back and really take this in. Im thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given to be in a position to win this award."