Dolly Parton has dedicated this year’s Academy of Country Music awards ceremony to the people of Ukraine, calling on viewers and fans to “pray for peace”.
The US music legend opened the ceremony in Las Vegas on Monday night, asking the crowd to “take a serious moment” before the awards got under way.
In true Parton style, the Jolene and 9 to 5 singer joked that she would “rather pass a kidney stone” than get political, but said she wanted to use the platform to send “love and hope” to those affected by the conflict as violence continues to rage following the Russian invasion.
The country music star is the latest celebrity urging people to support Ukrainians, with Harry Potter author JK Rowling pledging to match donations up to £1 million for an emergency appeal set up by her Lumos Foundation, and Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch using the unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame to draw attention to the crisis.
Mila Kunis: ‘Donate what you can’
Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis, who left the country when she was seven, and her husband Ashton Kutcher, have also set up a fund to support Ukrainian refugees and said they will match donations of up to $3m (£2.25m).
Movie studios Warner Brothers, The Walt Disney Company and Sony Pictures have also said they will not release their latest films in Russian cinemas.
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At the 57th Academy of Country Music (ACM), Parton, 76, told the crowd: “Now, I don’t want to be political and this is not. I’d rather pass a kidney stone than do that.
“I want us to send our love and hope to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.”
“So why don’t we just dedicate this entire show to them and pray for peace around this crazy old world.”
ACM awards return to Las Vegas following pandemic
Parton’s call for support comes following her philanthropy when COVID hit the world, donating $1m to help fund early research and trials for a vaccine.
Kelly Clarkson dedicated a performance of I Will Always Love You to Parton at the ACM awards. Pic: AP/John Locher
After being moved to different locations during the pandemic, the ACM awards – the biggest night in country music – returned to Nevada this year.
Brothers Osbourne, Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson and Parton herself were among the performers.
Clarkson sang a rendition of I Will Always Love You, which was written by Parton, and dedicated it to the singer.
Who won what?
The biggest prize of the night, entertainer of the year, went to Drunk singer Miranda Lambert, who accepted the award virtually from London.
Tennessee Whiskey singer Chris Stapleton was named male artist of the year, while best female was won by Carley Pearce.
Morgan Wallen won album of the year at the awards for Dangerous: The Double Album, a year after being removed from the ACM ballot after he was caught on camera using a racial slur.