When Carly Pearce brought Wynonna Judd out onstage during CMA Fest, it wasn't just a surprise for the crowd, but a full-circle moment for the star.
Growing up in Kentucky, Pearce has been a longtime fan of The Judds. Prior to her CMA Fest performance with Wynonna Judd, Pearce got to pay tribute to the legendary duo at their Country Music Hall of Fame induction in May, performing "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout The Good Old Days)."
But the event was marked by tragedy, as Naomi Judd had died the day before. Pearce said she now feels a sense of responsibility to help keep Naomi Judd's legacy alive.
"I have loved Wynonna and The Judds my whole life," she said recently while promoting the "CMA Fest" TV special, which was recorded during CMA Fest earlier this summer and airs this week. "I've been so fortunate to get to be a part of some of the very special ceremonies to honor Naomi. And with her passing, I think that it has shined a light on me that I've loved them forever and it is my duty as one of the country females to make sure that her legacy stays alive."
The singer fulfilled part of that goal with her special performance alongside Wynonna Judd, which will air during the "CMA Fest" special Wednesday night on ABC.
When Pearce was presented with the opportunity to sing with Wynonna Judd during her set at Nissan Stadium, she chose The Judds' 1984 hit "Why Not Me," citing it as "one of my favorite songs of all time."
"I said, 'I've become friends with Wynona a little bit, so maybe I could see if she wanted to sing with me,'" Pearce recalled of how the collaboration came about. "Wynona was my first concert when I was eight 8 years old, so this is the biggest full circle moment ever for me."
"CMA Fest," country music's hottest event of the summer, is back tonight. The three-hour special airs at 8 p.m. ET -- 7 p.m. CT -- on ABC.