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Brad Paisley Covers Jay-Z, Shouts Out to NYC + NJ While Performing ‘Southern Comfort Zone’ at the 2012 CMA Awards

Brad Paisley
Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Only a mega-talented superstar like Brad Paisley could cover Jay-Z at a country awards show and make it meaningful and freakin’ cool at the same time. And that’s just what he did at tonight’s CMA Awards. There was no irony and no jokes. There was nothing silly about it. It was straight from the heart.

Paisley, who pulled double duty since he also co-hosted the show, started off his performance with an ad-libbed version of the rapper’s smash hit ‘Empire State of Mind,’ which is a love letter to his home state of New York.

Paisley shouted out both New York and New Jersey — the residents of which are currently dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The superstorm left millions of tri-staters displaced and without power, not to mention a wake of devastation as it pounded the coastline and beyond. It was a touching tribute, and one that East Coasters won’t soon forget.

Paisley then launched into his own ‘Southern Comfort Zone,’ bathed in blue rays of light while strumming his trusty acoustic guitar. He eventually tossed that instrument away and grabbed an electric axe.

While Paisley wailed away on his beloved guitar, a choir of singers dressed in blue robes walked through the aisles of the auditorium to sing along and provide vocal support. It took an already awesome performance to another level and made it epic. Absolutely epic.

This performance will go on to become one for the ages, and we’ll probably even feature it as a ‘Remember When’ moment sometime down the road, since it was so memorable, powerful and downright awesome.

Paisley surely left a mark at the 2012 CMAs. Best of the night? Definitely.

See a Full List of 2012 CMA Awards Winners

Watch Brad Paisley Perform ‘Southern Comfort Zone’ at the 2012 CMA Awards

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