The 2021 CMT Music Awards show took place on Wednesday, June 9th live from Nashville. Hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini, the annual show is a celebration of country music and its fans. The special event is the only entirely fan-voted award show in the country music world honoring the genre’s best and most fan-favorite artists.
Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert were the most nominated artists, and Carrie Underwood and John Legend’s collaboration on “Hallelujah” won the most prestigious award of the night, Video of the Year. In addition, there were thirteen first-time nominees this year, including HARDY, Mickey Guyton, Niko Moon, Blanco Brown, Lainey Wilson, and Dylan Scott, among others.
Actual fans were in attendance from the show’s main location in Nashville. Lady A kicked off the night with a performance of “Like A Lady.” Fellow female artists, including Carly Pearce, Lindsay Ell, and The Shindellas joined them on stage as well. This energetic performance set the tone for an exciting show full of first-time collaborations. Chris Stapelton followed this with a fiery performance of “Arkansas” from the Bonnaroo Farm.
Little Big Town won the first award of the night, Group/Duo Video of the Year for “Wine, Beer, Whiskey.” Newcomer, Hailey Whitters was the first to perform on the Ram Truck Stage, singing “Fillin’ My Cup,” which features Little Big Town.
Luke Combs kept the party going with “Cold As You” from Assembly Hall. After, Mickey Guyton announced the CMT Equal Play award, which was given to the first black woman in country music, Linda Martell.
After an intimate performance from Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall, and Jack Ingram of “Tequila Does” around a campfire, Ballerini took home her first CMT Award for Performance of the Year with Halsey for “The Other Girl” from last year’s CMT Awards. In her award speech, she addressed the “chatter” that occurred after this performance last year.
“The fact that you voted this as the winning performance tells me that you know where my roots are and that you know who I am, Ballerini explained. “But it also tells me that you hear music as music, and it also tells me that you love when people push boundaries and explore their artistry and as I make a new record that means the absolute world to me.”
After the rocking performance from Brothers Osborne and Dierks Bentley of the duo’s song “Lighten Up,” Thomas Rhett slowed it down, singing the title track from his new album, Country Again. Ballerini and the lead singer of the group LANY, Paul Klein, debuted their new cross-genre song “I Quit Drinking.”
Right before Ingrid Andress performed her current single “Lady Like” on the piano, Chris Young and Kane Brown were awarded the Collaborative Video of the Year for “Famous Friends.” Another first-time collaboration took place after; Guyton and trap-country artist Breland, sang “Cross-Country” together. Both are fresh faces making a name for themselves in the genre.
Brett Young announced the Breakthrough Video of the Year, which was given to Dylan Scott for his song, “Nobody.” Scott performed this song on the Ram Truck stage earlier in the show. This was not only his first CMT Award, but his first-ever mainstream country award. Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi followed this announcement with their fun breakup collaboration “Getting Over Him.”
Little Big Town came back on stage to announce the Male Video of the Year, which was awarded to Kane Brown for “Worship You.” The video was directed by Alex Alvga, which Brown said was the third award he has won with him. The video features Brown’s wife, Katelyn, and daughter, Kingsley, who he thanked in his speech.
“Everyone knows that I love family, and the merch that I sell is not just for my family at home, but my family that works for me and everyone in country music,” Brown confessed.
Later, Gladys Knight announced the Female Video of the Year to Gabby Barrett for her hit song, “The Good Ones.” After Luke Bryan sang his latest number-one hit, “Down to One.” Fireworks went off behind him at Assembly Hall in Nashville when the song concluded.
The show ended with the announcement of Video of the Year, which was awarded to Carrie Underwood and John Legend for “Hallelujah.” She gave a shoutout to the video’s director, Randee St. Nicholas in her acceptance speech. This is Underwood’s highly impressive 23rd CMT award, and Legend’s first. Brown and Young came back on stage and closed out the show with an epic performance of their CMT Award-winning song, “Famous Friends.”
Click here for the full list of winners from the show.
Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music, ticket giveaways, merch, and more.