Typically an award show opens with a noisy, all-star jam that gets the audience to their feet, and viewers leaning in toward their televisions. CMT's 'Artists of the Year' broadcast began in a far more restrained manner. After a short and serious monologue by host Rob Lowe, pop star Gavin DeGraw performed Kenny Chesney's 'Somewhere With You.'

DeGraw stayed true to Chesney's original early on. Wearing a black suit, bowler hat and yellow tie, the singer took a few minutes to loosen up. It probably didn't help to see Chesney in the audience singing along to every word as if he were going to be writing a full critique later on. Finally in the last verse, DeGraw had some fun with the lyrics, putting his own twist on the final chorus as he showcased his impressive range.

Afterward Matthew McConaughey delivered a pre-taped message to Chesney. The actor was looking as rugged as ever, with noticeable grease worked into his week old stubble. The audience enjoyed his humor and praise for Chesney. The singer was rolling in laughter as his friend was the first to honor him.

Each of the five Artists of the Year were chosen based on record sales, airplay, tour receipts and impact they had on country music. Lowe noted that each had something else in common: "All of the five artists that we honor are singer-songwriters, story tellers," he said during his opening speech.

Watch Gavin DeGraw Perform Kenny Chesney's 'Somewhere With You'