NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean were the big winners, the Judds reunited, and Kelsea Ballerini turned a tough break into a housewife party at Monday night’s CMT Music Awards.
Underwood and Aldean won video of the year and collaborative video of the year for their duet “If I Didn’t Love You” on the show that uses fan votes to honor the best country music videos.
“This one’s all about the fan man,” Underwood said as she accepted the belt-buckling CMT trophy for Video of the Year, a record 25th win for her.
“I’m pretty sure I picked the perfect partner for this song,” Aldean said.
The Judds held their first major awards show in more than two decades, with Naomi, 76, and her daughter Wynonna, 57, singing their 1990 classic “Love Can Build a Bridge”.
They were joined by a gospel choir in the performance which was pre-recorded outside the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The show from the Nashville, Tennessee, municipal auditorium took advantage of the last-minute absence of co-host Kelsea Ballerini, who had tested positive for COVID-19 days earlier.
His co-host, “Avengers” actor Anthony Mackie, took the stage alone at the start of the CBS live broadcast and introduced a “backup KB,” Kane Brown, to help with hosting. Brown was also the night’s most nominated artist, but it stood empty.
But Ballerini would not be outdone. She appeared on the big screen from her home wearing a full awards show dress in her living room.
“It’s my normal Monday night, full glam, with lighting I installed myself and a remote truck outside,” Ballerini said. “I would so much rather be here with you, but I’ll be spending the whole night.”
Later in the show, Ballerini performed from her backyard, singing her new single “Heartfirst” alone with a white guitar while standing on the grass with images of her band projected onto a curtain hanging behind her.
She changed costumes constantly, appearing in a new dress with each appearance and ending the night in pajamas.
Miranda Lambert won her eighth CMT award, for Female Video of the Year, for “If I Was a Cowboy,” which she also performed.
“I’m so happy to be one of the women in country music today,” Lambert said.
Cody Johnson won Male Video of the Year for “Til You Can’t.”
Maddie & Tae won Best Group or Duo Video for “Woman You Got.” Tae Kerr, who recently went through a difficult pregnancy and premature birth, appeared on a screen in her home during their acceptance, holding her new baby.
“I missed you, I missed you so much, and I drank because I’m so nervous,” Maddie Font told her music partner during an acceptance speech where she went from laughs to tears and vice versa. . “Tell that little girl I love her.”
At 69, George Strait won his first-ever CMT award, winning CMT Performance of the Year for “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone?” from “CMT Giants: Charley Pride”.
Performances came fast and furious during the three-hour show.
Keith Urban opened the telecast with his single ‘Wild Hearts’, followed immediately by Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson’s ‘Never Say Never’ duet, who stepped out to an outdoor stage to let the Nashville rain hit them as they sang . .
Underwood sang his song “Ghost Story” in a pre-recorded performance from his Las Vegas residency, taking flight mid-song Cirque du Soleil style on a fabric swing suspended from the ceiling.
Jimmie Allen, Monica and Little Big Town gave the first live performance of their “Pray” collaboration. All wore white and stood on a stage covered in smoke as inspiring images of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine were shown behind them.
The change in accommodations wasn’t the only setback the show had to deal with: lightning forced the CMT’s pink carpet to close before most of the stars arrived for their photos and interviews. .
By Andrew Dalton and Kristin M. Hall