Jimmie Allen was among the all-star slate of country artists who took the stage to perform during the 2021 ACM Awards on Sunday night (April 18) in Nashville. The performance featured a surprise visit from Brad Paisley, who joins him on the studio version of the track from Allen's Bettie James EP.

Before the performance, Paisley shared a video from his truck outside the Bluebird Cafe, telling the audience that he originally told Allen he couldn't join him for the performance because he was out of town. But little did Allen know, Paisley (who is known for his tour pranks and hijinks) planned on storming the stage for his verse.

Allen effortlessly tore through the first verse solo before turning to all smiles and Paisley walked in to the Bluebird Cafe, guitar and mic in hand. Neither singer missed a beat, delivering a flawless live rendition of the nostalgic tune.

The song brought a yearning quality to the proceedings as Allen looked back at the carefree days of youth with longing.

"When the town was the whole world / And love was the girl next door / Soundtrack was a song in the dark / I miss those days when our dreams / Were there for chasin' / But time was better wasted / We were summer young and livin' for a Friday / And freedom was a highway," he sang in the chorus.

Allen released "Freedom Was a Highway" in January of 2021. He was already a winner before the ACM Awards show broadcast even began on Sunday. He was previously revealed as the 2021 ACM New Male Artist of the Year, marking the first time a Black artist has earned that distinction.

In an interview with Taste of Country Nights prior to the show, Allen said, "My dumb self picked up the phone to call my dad. And then I realized, he's dead. And that threw me in a little thing for a while."

The 2021 ACM Awards air live on CBS and stream live on Paramount+. Sign up for Paramount+ here.

2021 ACM Awards Show Photos:

The 2021 ACM Awards took place in Nashville on Sunday night (April 18). Luke Bryan was crowned Entertainer of the Year, while Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris were named Male and Female Artist of the Year, respectively.

The three-hour show was also packed with performances from Miranda Lambert, Luke Combs, Little Big Town and many more. Artists were at the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe, as well as on Lower Broadway, at the Station Inn and along the Nashville riverfront.

Keith Urban and Mickey Guyton co-hosted the show.
The best dressed on the 2021 ACM Awards red carpet brought color — lots of color — for an awards show that promises to be a celebration. Photos show stars like Carly Pearce, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Young, Kane Brown and more wearing the hottest and often most expensive designer outfits, or suits they designed themselves, in the case of Jimmie Allen.

Check out a full gallery of country music's hottest stars on the ACM Awards red carpet. Who do you think is best dressed and worst dressed?

The 2021 ACM Awards took place at the Bluebird Cafe, Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Sunday (April 18).

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