Mac Davis died in September at age 78, and CMA Awards hosts Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker will pay tribute to the late singer-songwriter during Wednesday night's show with a performance of "In the Ghetto," which was written by Davis and recorded by Elvis Presley. In addition, a version of the song recorded by McEntire and Rucker last month will be available at midnight ET following their CMA Awards performance.
"I'm lucky, I get to do something really special with Reba. We've got something that we're really excited about — and, no, I can't tell you [what it is]," Rucker previously joked on Live With Kelly and Ryan. On Instagram Wednesday morning, McEntire wrote that she and Rucker will be performing "an emotional tribute song" during the CMAs.
"In the Ghetto" was recorded in 1969 by Presley and was released as part of his comeback album, becoming a major hit. The song tells the story of a child born in the ghetto, growing up learning to steal and fight. He buys a gun and steals a car, tries to run but is shot and killed. The song ends with another child being born in the ghetto and the implication that the cycle of poverty and violence will continue.
Davis wrote several other songs for Presley as well as songs for artists like Nancy Sinatra and Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. He signed with Columbia Records in 1970 and began releasing his own music, becoming a crossover success with songs like "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me" and "Stop and Smell the Roses." He was also an actor and hosted his own variety show on NBC, The Mac Davis Show, from 1974 to 1976. In addition to a number of honors and accolades, Davis served as host of the CMA Awards three times.
There will also be a number of other tributes during Wednesday's show — Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Jenee Fleenor and Ashley McBryde will open the show with a multi-song tribute to Charlie Daniels, Little Big Town will honor Kenny Rogers and Jon Pardi will tribute Joe Diffie.
Other performers during the show include Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce and Charles Kelley, Keith Urban, Morgan Wallen, Gabby Barrett and Charlie Puth, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Rascal Flatts, Rucker with Lady A and McEntire with Thomas Rhett, Urban, Hillary Scott and Chris Tomlin. The 2020 CMA Awards will air on ABC on Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. ET.