The 2011 American Country Awards began with a medley from host Trace Adkins. The 6’6″ singer had yet to be joined by his diminutive co-host Kristin Chenoweth when he sang ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,’ ‘Just Fishin” and ‘Ladies Love Country Boys.’

A gander of tight-jeaned country cuties joined the big man onstage for the first and last songs in his medley. Adkins was dressed in all black, including a long leather jacket, tight black jeans and his signature black cowboy hat. He immediately seemed much more at ease in these opening moments than he was during the first hour of last year’s telecast.

After Adkins finished, he reluctantly introduced his co-host, saying the networks brought her along to keep him in line. “Make some noise for my opponent tonight, Kristin Chenoweth,” Adkins said, pointing to the actress-singer who was dressed in full boxing garb, including gloves. She gave fans and stars like Carrie Underwood a fist bump before making it known she was anxious to get her hands on Adkins.