The CMT Music Awards, which is country music’s only entirely fan-voted awards show, aired live Sunday night from Austin, Texas, hosted for the third time by Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown.
Ballerini opened the show with an emotional tribute to the victims of the Nashville shooting, which occurred on March 27.
“Tonight’s broadcast is dedicated to the ever growing list of families, friends, survivors, witnesses, and first responders whose lives continue to forever be changed by gun violence,” she said during the speech.
The CMT’s then kicked off with back-to-back performances, starting with Blake Shelton and his hit “No Body,” followed by Tyler Hubbard‘s “Dancin’ in the County,” and Gary Clark Jr., who channeled Stevie Ray Vaughan in a tribute to the legendary Texas six-string player.
Jelly Roll, a first time CMT nominee and winner of all three awards he was nominated for including Male Video of the Year, also hit the stage to perform his song “Need a Favor” and delivered an inspiring message during his acceptance speech.
“I don’t know what you’re going through and I don’t know what you’ve been through but I know you can overcome it,” he said. “I promise you, you can.”
Ballerini made a statement of support for the LGBTQ+ community when she hit the stage with “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too),” bringing out some stars from the RuPaul’s Drag Race series.
Other performers of the night included Carly Pearce, Alanis Morissette, Lainey Wilson, Ingrid Andress, Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, and Darius Rucker.
Shania Twain was honored with the CMT Equal Play Award, which recognizes an artist who is an advocate for elevating diverse and underrepresented voices in country music, and Kane Brown and his wife Katelyn took home Video of the Year for their song “Thank God.”
Closing out the star-studded night was a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd with Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash, and Warren Haynes. LeAnn Rimes and Wynonna Judd also joined in the tribute as honorary “Honkettes.”
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