That sounds right.
For the ninth time in her career and for the eighth time since 2010, Underwood won the grand prize – Video of the Year – at the annual CMT Music Awards. She won for “Hallelujah,” her John Legend collaboration, and took the trophy on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, where the show returned a year after the “normal” award shows were derailed by COVID-19.
In her acceptance speech, Underwood praised voters – country fans.
“Fans, thank you, fans,” said Underwood as he accepted the fan-selected award. “You are the reason we’re all here, do what we do, do what we love. Make music videos. ”
What else happened during the show? Read along for top moments, from all-star collaborations to an unsung country legend to trips to the Bonnaroo farm.
Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and Gabby Barrett
Underwood wasn’t the only one to smile at the Bridgestone Arena. Co-host Kane Brown left downtown Nashville as the winner of the CMT Music Awards of the year.
Brown won Male Video of the Year for his single “Worship You” and Collaborative Video of the Year for Chris Young’s duet “Famous Friends”.
“It’s the most nervous thing I’ve seen all night,” Brown said as he accepted his male video of the year award.
The 27-year-old focused his speech on the family – not just his wife Katelyn Jae and their daughter Kingsley Rose, but “my family who work for me, all of the country music and all of the 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 that gig last year there was a lot of chatter about categorically about which genre this song fits into or not,” Ballerini said from the stage. “And the fact that you made this your winning appearance tells me that you know where my roots are and that you know who I am. It also tells me that you hear music as music. … You love it when people push boundaries and explore their artistry. And since I’m setting a new record, that means the absolute world for me. “
Country newbie and “American Idol” Alumna Gabby Barrett was also part of a wave of first-time winners and was named Female Video of the Year for “The Good Ones”.
Linda Martell gets her debt
Pioneering 80-year-old Linda Martell – who was the first black solo woman to sing in the Grand Ole Opry in 1969 – received long overdue recognition when CMT presented her with the annual Equal Play Award.
In 1970 Martell released her debut album, Color Me Country, including lead single, Color Him Father, which climbed to # 22 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the highest black woman in chart history.
But her time in the spotlight was short-lived. Martell retired from the country music business in the mid-1970s.
Although underrated, Martell was not forgotten. The new wave of black country music artists – Mickey Guyton and Brown among them – have sung their praises, and Risi Palmer named her Apple Music country show “Color Me Country” in their honor.
The show honored Martell with a video montage with Palmer, Underwood, Rhiannon Giddens, Darius Rucker and first Equal Play winner Jennifer Nettles; Guyton presented the award to Martell, who received it from South Carolina earlier this week.
“Hearing Linda’s singing makes it clear she had the talent to be a big star, but her career was cut short for one reason: the color of her skin,” said Guyton, adding, “Equal play is crucial, so is The next generation of women like Linda can thrive in this industry. ”
Guyton continued, “Without you, I wouldn’t be here today and none of us would be here without you. So thank you, thank you, thank you.”
SHE kills with Chris Stapleton
The collaboration took center stage as country music transitioned to rock, pop, and soul during the Wednesday night show.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter HER hired Chris Stapleton for a standout version of the song “Hold On”, in which the artists exchanged guitar licks and shared lines in the ascending chorus.
Previously on the show, Ballerini and Paul Klein of alt-rock band LANY shared a television debut of the duet “I Quit Drinking”. Guyton joined newcomer Breland to record his single “Cross Country” before welcoming Empress of Soul Gladys Knight to sing “Friendship Train,” a show highlight.
And of course, country artists collided on stage. Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall took viewers to the campsite for a recording of “Tequila Does”; the show toured Harlinsdale Park in Franklin for “Getting Over Him” with Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi; and Young joined Brown to end the show with “Famous Friends”.
On the farm
As last year, the CMT Music Awards took viewers 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 when Chris Stapleton performed a roaring rendition of the 2020 track “Arkansas”. The show returned to Manchester for a collaboration between the Brothers Osborne and Dierks Bentley, their laid-back jam “Lighten Up” (complete with a stage full of “Roo memorabilia”) before making one final trip to Coffee County for a collaboration with Underwood and Bentley Christian outfit lined up NEED.
In the Nashville area, the show took viewers to 5th place + Broadway for performances by Luke Combs and Sachsen, respectively.
Taylor Swift’s win off camera
Quiz Time, Swifties: When was the last time Taylor Swift won a CMT Music Award?
Answer: In 2011 she won the video of the year for her single “Mine” from the “Speak Now” era (who still remembers that? Fast singing in a forest of memories during the video? Kickback!).
Swift returned to the winning column Wednesday night – albeit virtual – and received the Best Family Feature award for her adorable home footage video, “The Best Day (Taylor’s Version).” Fans voted for the category on social media off, and CMT announced a winner online Wednesday before the show.
“I LOVE YOU MOM,” Swift tweeted on Wednesday after winning the award.