It was a night to honor the best of the best in country music. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line and Keith Urban were celebrated for being the top artists of 2017 during the “CMT Artists of the Year” special at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville on Wednesday (Oct. 18) night.
However, instead of a year end celebration with awards for country’s top artists, the “CMT Artists of The Year” special turned it’s focus to a night of hope and healing through the power of music.
In the wake of three major hurricanes that caused destruction to many parts of the U.S. and the Caribbean, the mass-shooting that took place during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival and the devastating wildfires destroying a large part of California, the 90-minute special chose to forgo awards and speeches and let the honorees deliver heartfelt messages and uplifting music.
The five honorees stood on stage together to share their thoughts.
“Music can be so powerful and we have never needed it more than we do right now,” said Luke Bryan. “Music moves us, music brings us together and tonight we hope music can be a part of the healing.”
“From Las Vegas to Puerto Rico, from Florida and Texas to Charlottesville and California, the entire nation is trying to process these devastating events,” Chris said. “But on this night, one that we usually celebrate a year of music, we also want to celebrate a year of incredible human spirit. A spirit that we see in our fans every night.”
“We’ve been tested beyond our worst nightmares the past few months,” Jason added. “Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to explain how some of us feel. But we have proven time and again in this country that we have the power to overcome anything that threatens our way of life or our freedom. We dedicate this night to you and to everyone who has experienced loss or tragedy in the past few months.”
Andra Day and Little Big Town kicked off the show with a stirring rendition of “Rise Up” that left the audience invigorated. They later returned for a powerful collaboration on “Stand Up For Something” with Common, Lee Ann Womack and Danielle Bradbery.”
The evening saw an unforgettable night of music from it’s honorees, including Keith Urban’s jazzed up rendition of “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Luke Bryan performing “Fast,” Chris Stapleton and his wife Morgane coming together on “Broken Halos,” Phillip Phillips belting out “Body Like A Backroad” in place of Sam Hunt, who couldn’t attend because he was wrapping up his 15 in a 30 Tour in Hawaii, and the Backstreet Boys performing a beautifully harmonized version of “Holy” in honor of FGL.
Jason was the last of five artists to be honored. Luke Bryan introduced his friend with a few nice words.
“We’re both Georgia boys who met here in Nashville,” Luke said about Jason. “Along the way we’ve become great friends. Trust me when I tell you that the examples he sets as an artist are an inspiration.”
Jason then took the stage with a little help from his friends. The 40-year-old singer chose to have Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Little Big Town join him to close out the show with a rockin’ rendition of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”—the song he sang during his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” following the Las Vegas shootings.
The audience leapt to their feet thunderous applause as the curtain fell on the eighth annual “CMT Artists of the Year” special.
Lee Ann Womack: Photos By Tammie Arroyo/AFF-USA.com
Backstreet Boys: Photo by Tammie Arroyo/AFF-USA.com
Common: Photo By Tammie Arroyo / AFF-USA.com
Andra Day: Photo by Tammie Arroyo / AFF-USA.com
FGL & wives: Tammie Arroyo / AFF-USA.com