"My favorite part of the night was Carrie Underwood," Lambert said. "She brought the house down."
A day after her sizzling performance with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler at The Academy of Country Music Awards, Underwood was at it again Monday night during a tribute to some of the iconic women of the genre that will air April 22 on CBS. She teamed with Vince Gill on "How Great Thou Art," bringing the crowd to its feet yet again with a soaring, pitch-perfect vocal.
"I love being able to do different dynamic things," Underwood said "... Those rare moments when you get to do something that's unexpected or out of the blue, that's where creativity comes out when you put yourself in that one moment."
The academy saluted Underwood, Lambert, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, The Judds, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Martina McBride with another round of interesting combinations. Rascal Flatts serenaded Reba, John Fogerty saluted The Judds, Ronnie Dunn joined Nettles, Little Big Town sang for McBride and Blake Shelton performed for Lambert, his fiance.
Lambert admitted to getting misty during Shelton's performance of her song "Famous in a Small Town."
"I almost cried the whole time," she said. "Everybody's tribute was really emotional because it was really cool to celebrate women."
After a video tribute and performance, each singer got up for a song. Reba kicked things off by joining Rascal Flatts on "The Heart Won't Lie."
"I love the fact that she isn't afraid to take chances on songs," Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney said. "She has cut all kinds of different styles of songs and she owned them."
Dunn and Nettles performed "Let Him Fly" together, Little Big Town and McBride teamed on "When Will I Be Loved," Lambert put together a band, Pistol Annie, with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley to perform "Hell on Heels" and Wynonna joined Fogerty on a powerful version of "Proud Mary" as Naomi watched from the side of the stage where she danced and took a picture during the Creedence Clearwater Revival icon's guitar solo.
"I love her voice. She kills," Fogerty said. "Like the song of The Judds that I sing by myself, listening to her performance on that record, 'Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain,' she does things on purpose with the changes in her voice, it's like a guitar player bending notes or something. It's cool."
Other performers included Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, the JaneDear girls and Sara Evans.
The night's honorees gathered on stage after their tributes to sing "Coal Miner's Daughter" for Lynn, who was scheduled to appear but had to cancel because she's recovering from knee surgery. Lynn did appear in a taped message from her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
"Such a sistership," Wynonna Judd said of the gathering. "Women bond in a way that's very sacred. I look at Loretta up there, who's the reason I'm in country music. We stand on her shoulders. And looking at Carrie and Miranda and Jennifer and thinking this is the next generation, and I'm just in a surreal place that's between worlds."