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CMA hosts Darius Rucker, Reba McEntire to perform Elvis hit 'In the Ghetto'

The song, inspired by the childhood of its creator Mac Davis, will also be available for download.

Editor's note: The video above was from Tuesday Nov. 10, from TEGNA station WVEC. 

Country singers Darius Rucker and Reba McEntire will perform the Elvis Presley hit "In The Ghetto" at the 54th annual Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night, a nod to the song's creator and three-time CMA Awards host Mac Davis.

Davis died in September at the age of 78.  

"In the Ghetto," which Elvis made famous in 1969, was based on the life of a Black childhood friend that Davis had as a young kid. Both were in similar financial situations. But Davis, as the Tennessean reported, wondered why he as a white kid with little money seemed to be better off than his Black friend. The two were friends, in part, because both of their fathers worked together. 

The lyrics were written based on that memory from Davis' childhood. The original music came from friend Freddy Weller who got the notes and melody from Joe South. Bart Herbison, executive director of Nashville Songwriters Association International, helped with the lyrics.

Credit: Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP
Musician Mac Davis arrives at the Texas Film Awards on Thursday, March 6, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

Davis recalled in the Tennessean that he first heard Elvis' performance on the radio as he was driving. Davis said he wished Elvis wouldn't have pronounced the lyrics "Ghet-to" but instead as "Ghetto," attributing his own characteristic as a stickler songwriter to the critique. Realizing they had a huge hit, he soon learned to enjoy it.

Credit: AP
This combination photo shows Darius Rucker performing on NBC's "Today" show in New York on May 25, 2018, left, and Reba McEntire at the 54th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on April 7, 2019.

Rucker talked to ABC about hosting for the first time, the pandemic, being a Black artist in a predominantly white music genre and the conversations around racism he had with his teenage children. As for hosting the CMAs, Rucker said Reba's advice was, "Just be you. Let’s go out and have fun."

The CMAs air Wednesday night from Nashville. Rucker and McEntire recorded their version of the song last month. It will be released at midnight Thursday morning after the show, the CMA Awards announced

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS