sounds about right.
For the ninth time in his career and the eighth time since 2010, Underwood earned the top award – Video of the Year – at the annual CMT Music Awards. Winning for “Hallelujah” in collaboration with John Legend, he accepted the trophy Wednesday night at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, where the show returned a year after COVID-19 derailed “normal” award ceremonies.
In his acceptance speech, Underwood praised voters – country music fans.
“Fans, thank you very much, fans,” Underwood said while accepting the fan-voted award. “You’re the reason we’re all here, doing what we’re doing, doing what we love. Making music videos.”
What else happened during the show? Read on for the top moments, from All-Star collaborations to an unsung country legend getting her due and visits to Bonnaroo Farm.
Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and Gabby Barreto
Underwood wasn’t the only one who had reason to smile at Bridgestone Arena. Co-host Ken Brown left the city of Nashville as the year’s most-winning CMT Music Awards artist.
Brown won Male Video of the Year for his single “Worship You” and Collaborative Video of the Year for the Chris Young duet “Famous Friends”.
“This is the most nervous I’ve been all night,” Brown said while receiving his award for male video of the year.
The 27-year-old focused his speech on family — not only his wife, Caitlin Jay, and their daughter, Kingsley Rose, but “my family that works for me, everyone in country music, and all fans.”
First-time co-host Kelsea Ballerini also became a first-time CMT winner. Her collaboration with pop star Halsey on last year’s show – “The Other Girl” was named CMT Performance of the Year.
“After this performance last year, there was obviously a lot of talk[about]what genre that song did or didn’t do,” Ballerini told the stage. “And the fact that you voted this as the winning performance tells me that you know where my roots are, and you know who I am. It also tells me that you know the music you love.” Listen as I… you love when people push boundaries and explore their artistry. And as I set a new record, it means a whole world to me.”
country newcomer and “American Idol” Alumna Gabby Barrett was also part of a wave of first-time winners, earning Female Video of the Year for “The Good Ones”.
Linda Martel gets her due
trailblazing 80 year old linda martel — who was the first solo black woman to sing at the Grand Ole Opry in 1969 — gained longstanding recognition when CMT awarded her the annual Equal Sports Award.
In 1970, Martell released her debut album, “Color Me Country”, which also featured the lead single “Color Him Father”—which peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the highest by a black woman in chart history. -Charting placement.
But his time in the limelight was short. Martell had retired from the country music business by the mid-1970s.
Although less recognized, Martel has not been forgotten. He has been praised by a new wave of country music black artists – including Mickey Guyton and Brown, and Rhys Palmer named his Apple Music country show “Color Me Country” in his honor.
The show honored Martell with a video montage featuring Palmer, Underwood, Rhiannon Giddens, Darius Rucker and inaugural Equal Play recipient Jennifer Nettles; Guyton presented the award to Martell, who accepted it from South Carolina earlier this week.
“Listening to Linda singing makes it very clear that she had all the talent to become a huge star, but her career was cut short for just one reason: the color of her skin,” said Guyton, “equal play is important so Linda Like the next generation of women can flourish in this industry.”
Guyton continued, “I wouldn’t have stood here today without you, and neither of us would be here. So thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Her Murder With Chris Stapleton
Country music crossed over to rock, pop and soul during Wednesday night’s show as collaborations took center stage.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter HER joined Chris Stapleton for a standout take on the former’s song “Hold On,” in which the cast swapped guitar licks and shared lines in the soaring chorus.
Earlier on the show, ballerini and Paul Klein of alt-rock outfit LANY shared the television debut of the duet “I Quit Drinking.” Guyton joined newcomer Breland for a take on his single “Cross Country”, before welcoming soul queen Gladys Knight to sing “Friendship Train”, a show highlight.
And, of course, country artists clashed on stage. Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and John Randall take the audience to the campside for a shot of “Tequila Do”; The broadcast for “Getting Over Him” with Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardy went to Franklin’s Harlinsdale Park; And Young joined Brown to close the show with “Famous Friends.”
down on the Farm
Like last year, the CMT Music Awards took audiences on a musical journey through Middle Tennessee—including a handful of performances from Great Stage Park, AKA The Bonnaroo Farm in Manchester.
Drone footage showed the sprawling farm as Chris Stapleton gave a roaring rendition of the 2020 track “Arkansas.” Manchester for a collaboration with show brothers Osborne and Dierks Bentley’s later put-together jam “Lighten Up” (complete with a stage full of ‘Roo memorabilia’) before making a final trip to Coffee County for a collaboration with Underwood and the Christian Organization. Came back Needtobreath.
Around Nashville, the show brought audiences to 5th+ Broadway for performances by Luke Combs and Luke Bryan respectively, as well as the Midtown rooftop bar White Limousine to Ingrid Andres and the memorable “Lady Like”/”Like That” medley from pop artist JP. taken for Successful.
Taylor Swift’s off-camera victory
Quiz time, Swifties: When was the last time Taylor Swift won the CMT Music Awards?
Answer: In 2011, he won Video of the Year for his “Speak Now”-era single “Mine” (And Who Remembers) fast song in the forest of memories during the video? Throwback!)
Swift returned to the winner’s column — albeit virtually — Wednesday night, earning the “Best Family Feature” award for her beloved home footage video “The Best Day (Taylor’s Version).” Fans via social media Voted for the category, and CMT announced the winner Wednesday before the online show.
“I love you mom,” Swift tweeted on Wednesday after winning the award.