“Lee is doing good. He doesn’t have any symptoms so that’s great. So he’s doing well and quarantining,” Pearce told ET’s Rachel Smith ahead of the awards ceremony. “I found out [Monday] and it was obviously a disappointment just because we’ve had so much to celebrate with this song. We finally felt like we were going to be able to do it [Wednesday]. But it’s OK because things happen and I’m glad that he’s OK.”
“I’m so thankful to the CMAs for realizing this song was meant to be a duet and it wouldn’t sound right if I sang it by myself,” she noted, adding, “Charles Kelley of Lady A for the win!”
As for how Kelley’s addition came to be, Pearce shared that the CMAs had suggested him to replace Brice.
“The CMAs actually had the idea for Charles. And what’s funny is when we were thinking about people for the song, Charles was one of the voices that I knew could do it,” she explained. “So it’s kind of like this really full circle moment of like, ‘Well, I’m just gonna sing it with him too and try it out.'”
As for how the change and Brice’s COVID diagnosis has affected her feelings about the show, Pearce admitted “it’s definitely different” but feels “very safe.”
“I feel very lucky that we’re getting to put on a show,” she continued. “We’re getting to come all together in a safe form and fashion and somehow the CMAs have been able to do that and make sure we’re all safe and doing it correctly and by protocol. And we get to have a show which I think, you know, the silver living in this year is that.”
In a statement released to ET, the Country Music Association confirmed that Brice would no longer attend the Nov. 11 awards ceremony. They also confirmed that Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard will also be absent due to testing positive for the coronavirus.
“Although this is incredibly disappointing, not only for the show but also for CMA personally as we care deeply for these artists and only want the best for them and their families, it does reassure us that our protocols are working,” the statement read.
The association also provided assurance that neither performer had been on the set of the awards ceremony or put anyone else involved at risk.
“Our process enabled us to manage each situation immediately and before either artist ever entered our set,” the statement noted. “Most importantly, it prevented anyone else from being exposed. We have been extremely diligent with our testing process in advance of anyone entering our footprint. Every single person has been tested, and many will be tested repeatedly throughout the week. This is in addition to wearing PPE and of course practicing social and physical distancing.”
The statement concluded by assuring fans that there was still “an incredible” show planned.
Additionally in a statement to ET, Brice’s rep confirmed he would not be performing at the CMA Awards. “While in good spirits and not experiencing any symptoms, he will not be performing as scheduled for this year’s show and will be isolating at home until cleared by doctors,” the statement said. “Lee would like to thank the CMAs and all of his incredible fans for his nominations and is wishing his fellow nominees an incredible evening celebrating the best of Country music.”
See more on the CMAs below. The 54th Annual CMA Awards will air live on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT on ABC.
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