CMT took to the great outdoors around Nashville and Middle Tennessee Wednesday night to put on a socially-distanced version of the 2020 CMT Music Awards. A sparse, spaced-out audience even got to watch in Music City’s Cumberland Park — all sporting masks emblazoned with the show’s logo.
Carrie Underwood preserved her record as the winningest artist in the show’s history, picking up her twenty-first and twenty-second trophies for the night’s top honor, Video of the Year, as well as Female Video of the Year, both for “Drinking Alone.”
Luke Combs kicked off the night with an amphitheater performance of the album cut, “1, 2 Many,” that found him shotgunning a beer as he welcomed Brooks & Dunn onstage.
Kane Brown, Ashley McBryde, and Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland hosted the evening that mixed plenty of pop star power with country’s biggest and brightest. Taylor Swift gave Gabby Barrett her first-ever CMT trophy for Breakthrough Video for “I Hope,” an award the superstar took home just thirteen years ago.
Katy Perry introduced fellow American Idol co-host Luke Bryan‘s performance of “What She Wants Tonight,” shortly after he nabbed Male Video for “One Margarita.”
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani toasted after the rock star won her first CMT statue for Collaborative Video for “Nobody But You.” Their Voice co-star Kelly Clarkson intro’d Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey‘s bar-themed take on “The Other Girl.”
DJ/producer Diplo brought on his pal Morgan Wallen to sing his number one, “Chasin’ You,” while Rob Thomas introduced Jimmie Allen‘s duet with Noah Cyrus, who perhaps sported the night’s most memorable ensemble — a white bodysuit and cowboy hat reminiscent of Cher.
But it wouldn’t have been a country music awards show without a tug or two on the heartstrings. An emotional moment came early, as Chris Young won his first CMT honor for CMT Performance of the Year for “Drowning,” the song he wrote about the loss of a close friend. He stepped in at the last moment to perform in Kane Brown’s place at the 2019 CMT Artists of the Year special, after the sudden death of Kane’s drummer.
Jennifer Nettles accepted the inaugural CMT Equal Play Award for her work to further a more inclusive atmosphere for women in country music. CMT did their part, showcasing up-and-coming artists like Mickey Guyton, Ingrid Andress, Caylee Hammack, just to mention a few.
Little Big Town closed with a last call for “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” from Dickson, Tennessee’s Ruskin Cave. Ashley and Sarah wrapped up with quick birthday wishes for Kane, who turned 27 on Wednesday.
Here’s a complete rundown of the night’s winners:
Video of the Year
Carrie Underwood — “Drinking Alone”
Female Video of the Year
Carrie Underwood — “Drinking Alone”
Male Video of the Year
Luke Bryan — “One Margarita”
Group Video of the Year
Old Dominion — “One Man Band”
Duo Video of the Year
Dan + Shay — “I Should Probably Go To Bed”
Breakthrough Video of the Year
Gabby Barrett – “I Hope”
Collaborative Video of the Year
Blake Shelton with Gwen Stefani — “Nobody But You”
CMT Performance of the Year
From CMT Artists of the Year: Chris Young — “Drowning”
CMT Equal Play Award
By Stephen Hubbard
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