CMT Artists of the Year Event Shifts Focus to Honor Coronavirus Pandemic Heroes (Exclusive)

Terry Wyatt/Getty Images
Thomas Rhett

'CMT Celebrates Our Heroes' is a twist on the network's annual special and will include performances from top talent like Thomas Rhett and Lady Antebellum.

While many major music festivals and awards shows have been delayed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, CMT is moving one of its marquee events up from the fall to the summer — and shifting the focus from artists to everyday Americans who are making extraordinary contributions to their communities during this time of crisis.

CMT on Monday announced it will put a twist on its annual Artists of the Year event. On June 3, the network will air a two-hour virtual tribute to workers across the country who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists of the Year Special will feature performances from country music stars like Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line, Kelsea Ballerini, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett and more — all of which will be filmed in their own homes and virtually produced by CMT.

"The CMT Artists of the Year franchise has always been reflective of the important issues of our time, and this year, we all felt it necessary to shift our focus to honoring the real heroes during these unprecedented times," Leslie Fram, CMT's senior vp of music & talent, said in a Monday announcement. "From the first responders and health care workers to members of the military, our educators, food industry workers and so many more, the country music community will come together to honor these heroic men and women. The evening of unity will feature incredible performances, uplifting tributes and a salute to those risking their lives on the front lines of this crisis.”

The event will spotlight those real-life people who have made extraordinary contributions to society during the pandemic, instead of its traditional format of giving awards to top country artists. CMT is collecting personal stories through its website about unsung heroes in fields like health care, education, farming, food delivery, military, law enforcement, scientific research and production.

The special will air on the date that had originally been set for the CMT Music Awards, which were pushed to Oct. 14 due to the pandemic.