Country Newcomers, Legends Honored at 2015 CMT Artists of the Year — See Pics!
The 2015 CMT Artists of the Year awards show was a star-studded event in Nashville on Wednesday night (Dec. 2), during which country legends and country newcomers alike were honored at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. True to the genre, the venue saw lots of love and laughs.
The fancy event paid tribute to stars like Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Kenny Rogers, Chris Stapleton and the cast of the show Nashville. With a lineup like that, it was destined to be memorable, but there were a couple of moments that really stood out among the rest, though not all were happy.
Only half of the Little Big Town were in attendance due to a death in Jimi Westbrook's family. Phillip Sweet and Kimberly Schlapman accepted the award on behalf of the foursome, with Westbrook and wife Karen Fairchild missing, mourning the loss of Westbrook's sister, who passed away from cancer.
“Family has always been most important to us, and tonight, Karen and Jimi’s family are going through some of their very darkest days," Schlapman told the audience during a solemn moment before they lifted the award in dedication to Joyce Marie Westbrook Morgan.
The night went from somber to playful when Shelton took the stage. He spent a few moments poking fun at his pal Bryan. He brought along Bryan's scented candle to the stage, saying it smelled just like the Georgia native: "It’s like vanilla with a hint of deer urine.”
Bryan responded by correcting Shelton, explaining, “It’s vanilla bourbon Blake, not deer urine. I’m pretty sure ‘deer urine’ has never been said at an awards show.”
The evening also included performances by Thomas Rhett, a soul-meets-pop rendition of "Girl Crush," a performance honoring Shelton sung by Darius Rucker, Cassadee Pope and RaeLynn (who also stunned on the red carpet) and many, many more moments. If you missed the show, click through our gallery above to see some of the highlights from a big night of country music.