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Kane Brown and Katelyn Brown’s touching duet about finding the one won over the hearts of the CMT Music Awards.
The married couple’s hit, “Thank God,” was named video of the year Sunday and broke Carrie Underwood’s four-year winning streak to collect the top prize.
“This is all so new to me and when we recorded this song a year ago, I never in my life would ever think that this was going to happen,” Katelyn Brown said onstage, kissing Kane Brown afterward.
“I want to say thank you so much to my amazing husband. I love you. This is so special that we get to share this together every night.”
“Thank God,” which they performed during the three-hour show, reached No. 1 on country radio and has peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, Kane Brown’s highest placement on the all-genre chart. The song has also introduced the music world to his singer-wife.
Kane Brown also gave a shout-out to the video’s director, Alex Alvga, who is from Barcelona.
“He’s making the American dream come true,” the singer said.
Underwood, who attended the fan-voted show and performed, is the most decorated act in CMT history with 25 wins. She’s won video of the year 10 times, including 2019-22.
Kane Brown hosted the show for a third time with Kelsea Ballerini, who kicked off the event with a tribute to the six victims who were killed last week at The Covenant School in Nashville. The country singer also told the audience about her high school classmate who “lost his life to a gun in our cafeteria.”
“Tonight’s broadcast is dedicated to the ever-growing list of families, friends, survivors, witnesses and responders whose lives continue to forever be changed by gun violence. I pray deeply that the closeness and the community that we feel through the next few hours of music can soon turn into real action that moves us forward together to create change for the safety of our kids and our loved ones,” she said.
Ballerini also hit the stage to perform “If You Go Down (I’m Going Down Too)” alongside several drag stars of the hit TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race — as states across the country consider legally limiting drag show performances.
The night was full of more touching and serious moments, as well as fun and upbeat performances from country music’s top stars.
Shania Twain earned the CMT Equal Play Award and was introduced by Grammy-winning rapper and Texas native Megan Thee Stallion, who called the icon “hot-girl Shania.”
“I believe in an all-inclusive country music family. This is a genre of music with a rich history that raised and nurtured my own songwriting and performance and recording career from childhood. Currently, the industry standard does a real disservice to this. Now let us — the country music industry — do our part to close the gap and provide an equal workspace for all talent,” she said. “I will continue to do my best as a trailblazer, and together let’s ensure that all our fellow artists get equal play regardless of gender, age or race.”
Lainey Wilson, who was the top-nominated act with four, won two awards, including female video of the year for “Heart Like a Truck” and collaborative video of the year for “Wait in the Truck,” her song with Hardy.
Wilson spoke about women empowerment and perseverance as she collected the former award, presented to her by Twain, who embraced her onstage with a warm hug.
“This song right here is about finding freedom and strength. It’s about not being afraid of the scratches and the dents and the bumps along the way,” she said. “I’m so proud of this music video. It was filmed, produced, written and directed by all women.”
The awards show — airing from Austin, Texas, for the first time — featured a number of collaborative performances and tributes, and Wynonna Judd shined onstage as she performed Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” alongside Ashley McBryde.
“Mama, you need to be here tonight,” she said looking up and honoring Naomi Judd. “I miss you and I love you.”
Alanis Morissette was accompanied by Wilson, Ingrid Andress, Madeline Edwards and Morgan Wade to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CMT “Next Women of Country.” Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash, Warren Haynes, LeAnn Rimes and Judd honored Lynyrd Skynyrd, including late guitarist Gary Rossington, and celebrated 50 years of the rock band’s debut album.
Gwen Stefani and Carly Pearce joined forces to sing No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” while Darius Rucker and The Black Crowes collaborated onstage. Other performers Sunday included Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Tyler Hubbard and Gary Clark Jr., who performed “The House Is Rockin’” in tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Jelly Roll, who also performed, was the night’s big winner with three awards, including male video of the year, breakthrough male video of the year and the CMT digital-first performance of the year.
“I hope y’all give me a second, I’m a little emotional. I started drinking. I didn’t think I was going to win again,” said Jelly Roll, who had a Top 10 country hit with “Son of a Sinner” and has also had albums and songs find success on the rock and rap charts.
“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. I promise you, you can,” he said to cheers from the crowd. “You can be whatever you want to be, I promise you that. I told them I wanted to be a country music singer and I’m standing here at the CMT Awards!”
Other winners Sunday included Zac Brown Band (group/duo video of the year), Cody Johnson (CMT performance of the year) and Megan Moroney (breakthrough female video of the year).
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