Miley Cyrus performed a soaring version of her new emotional single "Slide Away" at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards
In a backstage moment, captured by MTV cameras, the pair were spotted together and Carter put her hand on Cyrus’ head. Then, onstage at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Monday night, the 26-year-old put on a passionate performance that aired in black-and-white.
Cyrus, clad in a black minidress, held tight to the microphone stand as she belted the break-up track, and leaned in to her signature raspy vocals.
In what appeared to be an emotional moment for the star, she subtly changed several lyrics, adding the line, “You’re right, I’m grown now” after singing the original line, “You’re right, we’re grown now.”
She finished off the tune by adding, “Slide to what you know” as her parents Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus were seen giving their daughter a round of applause.
The public appearance was her first since it was revealed that Cyrus and her husband of less than a year had called it quits.
“Liam and Miley have agreed to separate at this time,” began a statement from the couple’s rep, exclusively obtained by PEOPLE on Aug. 10. “Ever-evolving, changing as partners and individuals, they have decided this is what’s best while they both focus on themselves and careers. They still remain dedicated parents to all of their animals they share while lovingly taking this time apart. Please respect their process and privacy.”
Check out PEOPLE’s full MTV VMAs coverage to get the latest news on one of music’s biggest nights.
Released days after the break-up became public, the new song gave Cyrus the chance to open up about the breakdown of their union.
“Once upon it was paradise, once upon a time I was paralyzed / I think I’m gonna miss these harbor lights / But it’s time to let it go,” she opens the song. “Once upon a time it was made for us, woke up one day and it turned to dust,” Cyrus continues. “Baby, we were found, but now we’re lost / So it’s time to let it go.”
Cyrus goes on to make a drug and alcohol reference, singing, “I want my house in the hills / don’t want the whisky and pills / I don’t give up easily but I don’t think I’m down.”
“Move on, we’re not 17 / I’m not who I used to be,” Cyrus adds. “You said that everything changed / You’re right I’m grown now.”
Days after the song’s release, the 29-year-old Australian actor filed for divorce.
According to The Blast, Hemsworth — who has hired famed Hollywood divorce attorney Laura Wasser — cited “irreconcilable differences.” The pair signed a prenuptial agreement ahead of their marriage, so a smooth divorce is expected, PEOPLE confirms.
Reps for Hemsworth and Cyrus did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“She didn’t expect it and is a bit disappointed, but she is still doing well and has obviously moved on as well,” a Cyrus insider previously told PEOPLE of the singer.
Despite the breakup, the insider says Cyrus has fond memories of their nearly 10-year romance.
“What she and Liam had for a long time was very special,” the Cyrus insider adds. “It’s just hard for her to think that she will never have this again with Liam. There are really so many things that she loves about him.”
Additionally, Cyrus turned to social media late last week to deny rumors that she had cheated on Hemsworth.
“I can admit to a lot of things but I refuse to admit that my marriage ended because of cheating. Liam and I have been together for a decade. I’ve said it before & it remains true, I love Liam and always will,” she wrote in along, impassioned note shared to her Instagram and on Twitter.
Cyrus added: “At this point I had to make a healthy decision for myself to leave a previous life behind. I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in a long time. You can say I am a twerking, pot smoking, foul mouthed hillbilly but I am not a liar. I am proud to say, I am simply in a different place from where i was when I was younger.”
The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards will air live from Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center on Monday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. ET.