LAS VEGAS -- Carrie Underwood summed up the Girls' Night Out: Superstar Women of Country concert perfectly when she told the audience, "I don't know what country music would do without them, and I don't know what the world would do without them."
Indeed, eight of country music's most prominent women -- the Judds, Miranda Lambert, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Underwood -- were given a night to shine on Monday (April 4), just one night after the ACM Awards. Taped at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the special will air on CBS on April 22.
Over the course of three-and-a-half hours, each honoree (except Lynn, who was advised not to travel because of a recent knee surgery) was called from the front row to the stage for a video tribute, followed by a performance by their male admirers. Then, each honoree stepped to center stage for a duet with their male counterpart. Fortunately the video clips and commentary were so concise, the bulk of the special will offer the celebrated artists doing what they do best -- belting it out for thousands of enthusiastic country fans.
The show was taped slightly out of order, so Jason Aldean kicked off the night by saluting everybody at once with "She's Country." At the end of the evening, Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter" received a rousing update by all the female honorees after a speech from McBride accurately noting there isn't a female country artist alive that hasn't felt Lynn's influence.
Without giving too much away, the show succeeded largely because of the musical chemistry between the women and men. Among the highlights, Rascal Flatts teamed with McEntire for "The Heart Won't Lie" while Ronnie Dunn turned Nettles' "Stay" into a showcase for his plaintive voice. Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells and Tammy Wynette were given their due with terrific musical tributes by The Band Perry, the JaneDear Girls and Sara Evans, respectively. That segment was followed by Little Big Town's unique spin on McBride's signature hit, "Independence Day." In addition, John Fogerty nailed his rendition of the Judds' "Rockin' With the Rhythm of the Rain."
Meanwhile, Blake Shelton told Lambert she was "a product of the people you grew up with," then introduced a funny clip of friends from her hometown of Lindale, Texas, talking about what she's really like. However, Lambert bent the rules by not performing with Shelton, instead bringing out her friends Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley -- billed as the Pistol Annies -- for a sharp-shootin' song about sassy women who consider themselves "Hell on Heels."
Underwood was just one of many women brought to tears when fellow Oklahoma native Vince Gill covered "Jesus, Take the Wheel" with his high, lonesome tenor. (Naturally, he lightened the mood when he said he had to choose between that and "Cowboy Casanova.") Then, Gill clutched his guitar to elegantly accompany Underwood on the enduring hymn, "How Great Thou Art."
You almost had to remind yourself that you were in Las Vegas, not exactly the Mecca of spirituality. Still, their magnificent performance served as a beautiful benediction to a memorable evening of worship, musically speaking.
View photos from the Girls' Night Out taping.