The Country Music Television (CMT) Music Awards are here.
The stellar event began in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday night with a performance by Lady A. The trio was joined on stage by Carly Pierce and Lindsay Elle.
Elle intervened after Gabby Barrett bowed, citing “personal circumstances.”
The cameras then took viewers to a farm where Chris Stapleton performed Arkansas.
After the two performances, the hosts Kane Brown and Kelsey Ballerini took the stage. “After this year … I’m thirsty for a great party,” Brown said.
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The first prize of the night – a group duet video of the year – went to Little Big Town for “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”.
“That’s great. First of all, we’re back and we’re making music people,” Kimberly Shlapman shouted, referring to the pandemic.
“I know you like to drink songs,” added Karen Fairchild.
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The award was presented by Trace Adkins and Taylor Levan of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, who taunted country music “jargon” by asking Adkins what a good, reduced heel and bluegrass are – refuting the expert’s answers with silly jokes.
Levan told Adkins that a reduced heel is when the drinker has less whiskey than expected, and that it’s good to have a friend who eats too much pizza.
Hailey Withers then took the stage to sing her hit “Fillin ‘My Cup.” Miranda Lambert also performed a stripped-down version of her hit “Tequila Does”, honoring her Texas roots. She sang around the campfire with John Randall and Jack Ingram. Luke Combs also introduced himself.
Linda Martel, one of the pioneers of blacks in country music and the first black woman to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry, received the CMT Equal Play award.
Comedian Eliza Schlesinger took to the stage to mock country music lyrics, especially from some of the best performers in the genre.
She cited “violent” lyrics in songs by Carrie Underwood and Lambert, proposing to develop a TV show “CSI: Nashville” based on songs like “Before He Cheats.” The remark was a reference to the long-running CBS drama “CSI” and its divisions that followed the crime scene investigators.
The star presented the award for joint video of the year, which was presented to Chris Young and Brown for their tune “Famous Friends”.
Later in the evening, Stapleton and HER took to the stage with a collapsing collaboration. Another breathtaking collage featuring Underwood and rock band NEEDTOBREATHE. Luke Brian also rocked the house with his hit “Down to One”.
The CMT Music Awards will honor country music performances, but will also share the stage with pop and R&B stars, including Gladys Knight, Pink, John Legend, Halsey and Noah Cyrus.
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Both Maren Morris and Barrett were originally scheduled to compete in the CMT Awards, but withdrew.
Fox News’ Nate Day and the Associated Press contributed to this report