The country star recently told PEOPLE he feels "super blessed and super lucky" for his successful career — the star celebrated 20 years since the release of his debut single "Austin" on Sunday night

By Jen Juneau and Darlene Aderoju
April 18, 2021 10:24 PM
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Blake Shelton just threw it way back in celebration of his illustrious career onstage at the 56th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.

The six-time ACM Award-winner, 44, kicked off his medley performance at Sunday night's show with his debut studio single, "Austin," in honor of the 20th anniversary of the tune.

The star continued strumming his guitar as he went on to deliver his latest single, "Minimum Wage." He then introduced the beloved Dolly Parton, who announced Leslie Jordan to present the ACM award for duo of the year.

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton
| Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Shelton took the stage at the famous Opry House just moments after Ashley McBryde performed "Martha Divine" live from Nashville's Bridge Building. Immediately before Shelton hit the stage, fellow crooner Alan Jackson delivered "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" and his heartfelt new song, "You'll Always Be My Baby" from the Ryman Auditorium.

Hours before his incredible performance, Shelton shared a post on Instagram, captioning it, "We're getting close y'all!!! Who's ready to watch Blake perform on the @ACMawards?"

Check out PEOPLE's full ACM Awards coverage to get the latest news on one of country music's biggest nights.

blake shelton
Blake Shelton
| Credit: Jason Kempin/ACMA2021/Getty Images

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Released in April 2001, "Austin" was Shelton's first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and catapulted him to stardom. Since then, he has released 11 studio albums (his 12th, Body Language, is set for release in May) and embarked on nine headlining tours.

Shelton — who is up for the music event of the year award alongside fiancée Gwen Stefani for their duet "Nobody But You" — recently reflected on his two-decade-long career in a conversation with PEOPLE, saying, "I would have told myself to get more rest back then."

"These days I'm just kind of a slow slug," he added. "Luckily I got the job on The Voice and I get to sit in the red chair most of the time for a living."

As he gears up for a jam-packed future, Shelton is amazed at all he's been able to accomplish in the last two decades.

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton
| Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

"Here I am sitting here talking to you 20 years later after 'Austin' came out — not only talking to you but talking about new music that's still coming out," he told PEOPLE. "I don't know how this happened to me, but I thank God every day. I've just been super blessed and super lucky. It's unbelievable."

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During a March appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Stefani, 51, spoke about her collaborations with Shelton and said she was still reeling from their ACM Awards nomination.

Speaking about her success in country music, the No Doubt singer said she "really just hopped on a couple" of Shelton's songs, which she called an "honor."

"Blake Shelton has 27 No. 1 radio hits — I never in my wildest dreams would imagine being part of that," she told host Ellen DeGeneres. "To be on a song that goes No. 1 in a genre that I have no business being part of, twice, and now up for these awards, it's pretty monumental and exciting and unexpected."

The 2021 ACM Awards are airing live from Nashville from 8-11 p.m. Sunday on CBS and Paramount +.