A killer Country Music Association Awards performance is likely not the first thing most people think of when they hear Justin Timberlake's name.
A denim tuxedo? Sure. A pronunciation of “me” that sounds more like the last month of spring?
Yeah, of course. A live country music performance that brings a room full of the genre's brightest stars to their feet? Not as much.
The native Tennessean, whose pop tunes have always taken a more R&B-friendly route, destroyed expectations Wednesday when he joined CMA Best New Artist winner Chris Stapleton for a back-to-back set.
The two southerners shook the room with Stapleton's hit “Tennessee Whiskey,” before launching into Timberlake's “Drink You Away.”
Audience members, including country music greats themselves, were floored by Timberlake and Stapleton.