CMT Artists of the Year 2021 brings genre-defying moments, epic performances

Courtesy of CMT

Stars of all backgrounds and descriptions collided at the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, which aired live from Nashville on CMT Wednesday night.

A handful of the genre’s biggest and most influential artists were the night’s honorees, while other stars from a diverse background of genres and musical styles were on hand to help celebrate them.

Alongside rising pop-soul act Yola, Breakout Artist of the Year honoree Mickey Guyton gave the world premiere performance of her song, “Remember Her Name.” Christian star Michael W. Smith celebrated honoree Gabby Barrett’s faith-filled roots before her performance, and Kane Brown was paid tribute by rapper Nelly, his musical pal and recent collaborator.

Another honoree, Luke Combs, was introduced by his country-rock hero, Eric Church, before performing recent hit “Forever After All.” Meanwhile, Chris Stapleton got a special tribute performance, with R&B greats Boyz II Men teaming with Pentatonix’s Kevin Olusola to highlight the soulful side of Chris’ song, “Cold.”

Kelsea Ballerini delivered a performance live from her tour with pop act the Jonas Brothers, treating the audience to their version of “With a Little Help from My Friends,” recorded in Franklin, Tennessee.

Of course, traditional country played a big role in Wednesday night’s ceremony, too. Garth Brooks celebrated his fellow traditionalist Randy Travis, who was honored with the Artist of a Lifetime award. Kane also took the stage in honor of Randy, delivering a version of the legendary artist’s “Three Wooden Crosses.”

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