Dolly Parton Says Whitney Houston ‘Smiling Down’ After Kelly Clarkson Sings ‘I Will Always Love You’

Houston’s cover of Parton’s 1974 song is one of the best-selling singles of all time

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kelly Clarkson honored country music legend Dolly Parton during Monday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards, performing a moving rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”

After the performance, she welcomed Parton — who was hosting the awards show — onto the stage at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

“I know that Whitney is smiling down on us tonight, so thank you very much. She would be proud of that,” Parton said after the took the stage, referencing the late icon Whitney Houston. Parton wrote the song in 1974, which Houston covered for “The Bodyguard.” It’s one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Parton appeared to be just as moved by Clarkson’s performance as the rest of the audience, admitting: “I was backstage trying not to cry my false eyelashes off, slinging snot in every direction and tears. But anyway, that was an amazing job!”

The ACM Awards also featured performances from other country music icons including Brothers Osborne, Carrie Underwood, Chris Young, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Maren Morris, Walker Hayes, Kelsea Ballerini, Kane Brown, and Luke Bryan.

Following the show, Parton called it “a night to remember” on social media.