Country’s biggest stars were in Nashville on Wednesday night (10/19) for the annual CMT Artists of the Year special. The ceremony was held at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, where the night’s honorees Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Shania Twain and Thomas Rhett were celebrated with special performances and presentations. The special premiered last night (10/20) on CMT.
Highlights of the ceremony included:
—Shania Twain was presented with the biggest honor of the night; the award for “CMT Artist of a Lifetime.” Pop star Meghan Trainor and R&B singer Jill Scott were on hand to honor Shania, joining Kelsea Ballerini for a cross-genre medley of Twain’s iconic hits “Still the One,” “Any Man of Mine” and “Man, I Feel Like A Woman.” A clip of that performance can be seen here.
—Kelsea Ballerini was also the recipient of the second “Breakout Artist of the Year” honor. After Kelsea’s Greatest Hits co-hostArsenio Hall presented her with the award, she thanked CMT for their continued support of female artists and dedicated the award to her grandfather, who passed earlier that day. Ballerini also gave a performance of “Peter Pan,” which can be seen here.
–Little Big Town presented Luke Bryan with his fifth “CMT Artists of the Year” honor durng the ceremony. During theirpresentation, LBT poked fun at Bryan by unveiling a tiny training bicycle on stage in reference to Luke’s recent bike accident. Bryan and Karen Fairchild also took the stage to perform their chart-topping duet “Home Alone Tonight.”
–Thomas Rhett accepted his first-ever “CMT Artists of the Year” honor, thanking his friends and co-honorees, Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, for their influence and support, and for paving the way for him. Rhett also teamed up pop star Zara Larssonfor a mashup of his hit “Die A Happy Man,” followed by her song “Never Forget You.” A clip of that performance can be seen here.
–As Chris Stapleton accepted his Artist of the Year honor, he recalled being on the same stage two years ago to perform his fellow honoree Luke Bryan’s hit “Drink A Beer.” Stapleton also performed his hit song “Whiskey and You.” The performance can be seenhere.
–Honoree Carrie Underwood gave a performance of her song “Like I’ll Never Love You Again,” backed by co-writers The Love Junkies. During her acceptance speech, Underwood got emotional after seeing a video of her son Isaiah on the screen. Her speech can be seen here.
–Honorees Florida Georgia Line kicked off the show with their current single, “May We All.” Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard’sacceptance speech can be seen here.