Kelsea Ballerini introduced Carlile, calling her “a true artist who shares her truth with a power and poetry all her own.”
Carlile’s performance was acoustic, which gave it extra power. The veteran musician hit every note with emotion as the lyrics were spelled out on the screen behind her, bringing conviction and strength to the song’s empowering message that offers encouragement to those who feel suppressed.
“They can kick dirt in your face / Dress you down, and tell you that your place / Is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine…Let ’em live while they can / Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind / I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends / And the joke’s on them,” she sang.
“The Joke” is the lead single off Carlile’s acclaimed album By the Way, I Forgive You. The project earned the Grammy for Best Americana Album, while the song was named Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance ahead of the telecast.
“I chose ‘The Joke’ because I just feel like it’s an important song at this time and in this country and I think that that song’s success says more about our nation’s willingness to receive it than it does actually what I’m saying and what I’m doing,” she says of performing the song on the broadcast.
Carlile was also nominated in the mainstream categories of Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year.
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