Kelsea perseveres, Maddie cries, and Jason & Carrie take home top prize at CMT Awards


Keith Urban set things in motion Monday night with an energetic performance of “Wild Hearts,” as the 2022 CMT Music Awards took over a transformed Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.

Even a positive COVID-19 diagnosis couldn’t keep Kelsea Ballerini from doing her part, co-hosting the show from her living room, alongside Anthony Mackie and Kane Brown, who stepped in at the last minute. She even managed to work in most of her wardrobe changes — finishing the night in pjs — and debuting her new single, “Heartfirst,” from her backyard.

Little Big Town also rolled out their new release, “Hell Yeah,” while Carly PearceThomas Rhett, and Maren Morris all opted for album tracks. TR teamed with Riley Green for “Half of Me,” and Ryan Hurd joined his wife for “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” while Carly lit up a pyro-infused rendition of “Diamondback.”

Fireworks closed out Female Video winner Miranda Lambert’s performance of “If I Was a Cowboy” on the show’s Lower Broadway stage, where Jason Aldean earlier teamed up with eighties icon Bryan Adams to cover “Heaven.”

Jason won both Collaborative Video and Video of the Year – the night’s top honor – for “If I Didn’t Love You” with Carrie Underwood, who offered an impressive acrobatic performance of “Ghost Story,” shot earlier during her ongoing Vegas residency.

Of course, no moment could rival the reunion of the Judds, who revived “Love Can Build a Bridge” – complete with choir – in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame, where Naomi and Wynonna will soon be inducted.

Maddie Font delivered the night’s most emotional moment, barely able to speak through tears and excitement, after an unexpected win for Group/Duo Video for “Woman You Got.” New mom Taylor Kerr joined via video, holding her new baby, Leighton Grace, born in January.

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