WATCH: Kelly Clarkson Emotionally Nails ‘The Dance’ in Garth Brooks Tribute at Kennedy Center

by Emily Morgan

It’s an undeniable fact that no one can perform “The Dance,” like Garth Brooks. However, Kelly Clarkson’s rendition left audience members— and Brooks himself— stunned. 

At the 43rd annual Kennedy Center Honors, Clarkson serenaded Brooks with his No. 1 hit from the ’90s, “The Dance.” During the performance, Brooks, an honoree for the event, was moved nearly to tears as he and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, watched in awe. 

The moment was significant for Clarkson as she has an emotional connection with the song. In December, she told Brooks on her talk show that “The Dance” helped her cope during her divorce from her ex-husband, Brandon Blackstock.

“I couldn’t quite nail down the feeling,” she admitted to him at the time. “I was like, well … you don’t want to crap on it. Like you don’t want to say that didn’t count or matter, but you don’t know what to put in it because it didn’t work out how you wanted. And so, anyway, I kid you not, I was listening to my playlist and ‘The Dance’ came on and I was like, ‘No, that’s the thing. That’s it.'”

Kelly Clarkson’s Emotional Ties to ‘The Dance’

Clarkson also confessed that she was inspired by “The Dance” on her upcoming ninth studio album. At the time, the “American Idol” alum sang the tag of the unreleased song, “Even though my heart is broken, it was worth the dance anyway.”

During an interview with Entertainment Tonight before the Awards ceremony, Clarkson opened up about how “nervous” she felt singing “The Dance” in front of Brooks. 

“I was texting Trisha Yearwood before the show, and then I go on stage and I saw them, and like, all of a sudden, I am the sweatiest human on planet earth,” Clarkson admitted. But little did she know, both Brooks and Yearwood marveled at her rendition featuring a full band.

“It’s just so pretty. That woman is a true friend to a song. She’s amazing,” the country star told ET. On Sunday, Brooks will be honored with Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Dick Van Dyke, and Midori at this year’s honors. Gloria Estefan will host for the second time. 

In addition to Clarkson, Derek Hough, Vanessa Hudgens, Pentatonix, Gladys Knight, Emmylou Harris, Jimmie Allen, and Yo-Yo Ma will perform. The ceremony will air on Sunday, June 6, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. You can also watch the event on Paramount+.