Ed Sheeran Brings Out Luke Combs for Surprise Duet of 'Life Goes On' at 2023 ACM Awards

Ed Sheeran and Luke Combs
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Sheeran made his ACM Awards debut at Ford Center in Frisco, Texas, on Thursday.

Ed Sheeran just made his debut at the 58th annual ACM Awards and he delivered a powerful performance with some help from Luke Combs.

The "Shape of You" singer hit the stage Thursday night at the Ford Center's The Star in Frisco, Texas, and performed "Life Goes On" while strumming his guitar and rocking an appropriately country denim ensemble.

Sheeran turned the number -- off his just-released album Subtract -- into a duet with Combs, who joined the English singer on stage in a surprise appearance that gave the song a fantastic country music flair.

After the unexpected pairing, host Garth Brooks took the stage to ask the artists about their collaboration and how they made it come together.

"We met like 2018, I'd heard Luke's music through a friend... and we've just been friends for years now," Sheeran said, smiling, "and it's been great."

Sheeran's performance comes exactly one week after a verdict sided with him in a copyright trial over his "Thinking Out Loud" track. A New York City jury ultimately found that the 32-year-old singer did not copy Marvin Gaye's 1973 hit, "Let's Get It On,' for his 2014 hit track. 

After the verdict was reached, Sheeran, who was forced to miss his grandmother's funeral in Ireland to attend the trial, publicly released a statement about his win and the case as a whole.

"I am obviously very happy with the outcome of the case, and it looks like I'm not going to have to retire from my day job after all -- but, at the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all," Sheeran's statement read. "We have spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies and four chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day, all over the world. These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before 'Let's Get It On' was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone. They are a songwriter's 'alphabet', our tool kit and should be there for us all to use. No-one owns them, or the way they are played, in the same way, nobody owns the color blue."

The 58th annual ACM Awards are streaming live on Prime Video and Amazon Music's channel, Twitch, on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET from the Ford Center's The Star in Frisco, Texas. Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks are hosting the show with performances by Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and more. Check out all the nominees and the full winners list.