“Whew, the good Lord has been very good to me — well, all of us in this room, for a long time,” she told the fans. “First and foremost, I’d like to just thank Him for our love of music.”
Underwood also praised Randee St. Nicholas, the video’s director. With a radiant smile, the singer added, “My husband, it’s his birthday! So, I got you a present! My fan club members and all the people here in town for CMA Music Fest awesomeness. And the fans! Thank you so much! … I don’t deserve this. Thank you.”
“Wow! My heart’s beating out of my chest. Thank you guys so much. We have the most amazing fans in the world. Thank you, thank you so much,” said FGL’s Tyler Hubbard, after winning the breakthrough category.
Brian Kelley added, “Our amazing fans, we can’t thank you enough. You guys have changed our lives!”
After winning the duo award, Kelley excitedly told the crowd, “This is a little overwhelming. Thank you guys so much. We’ve got the best fans in the freaking world.”
Meanwhile, Hubbard exclaimed, “Two in a row? We’re going to turn into Taylor Swift here in a minute! Right, Taylor?”
Upon claiming the buckle in the group video category, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott said, “We honestly never had more fun shooting a video. Our co-star, Beth Behrs [of 2 Broke Girls], pulled me out of my shell. And it was just really fun getting to go do a lot of illegal things. Thank you to the fans. We love you!”
Lambert accepted the latter award from Lenny Kravitz , the rock star who led the night’s performances by singing “American Woman” as a duet with Aldean.
“I just got a kiss from Lenny Kravitz. That was an award in itself,” she said. “I had so much fun making this video with Trey Fanjoy. There wasn’t much acting, unfortunately, because I got to be a little bit crazy. The only unfortunate part about the video was all the drinking was actually iced tea. That was bad. But, anyway, thank you so much! This is great. I appreciate you. I love country music. I love you fans.”
Lambert’s husband, Blake Shelton, was not on hand to accept his male video award for “Sure Be Cool If You Did” in person. Lambert, who was presenting the award, accepted on his behalf.
“He wasn’t able to be here tonight. He’s on a plane. He tried really hard to get here, but he’s filming in L.A. tonight,” Lambert told the fans. “I’m going to take this home on his behalf. Honey, I’m drinking for two tonight! I love you!”
However, Shelton was part of a pretaped opening segment with Aldean and actress Kristen Bell , the show’s two co-hosts. Other comical cameos in the therapy-themed bit included Luke Bryan, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood, as well as Lorraine Bracco of The Sopranos, Dr. Drew of Celebrity Rehab and Kelsey Grammer of Frasier.
Lambert offered one of the night’s most dynamic performances with “Mama’s Broken Heart.” Kacey Musgraves , Darius Rucker and Hunter Hayes also took charge of the stage within the first hour of the show. And as Hayes raced through fans outside of Bridgestone Arena, he tossed to The Stage, a nearby honky-tonk, where fans were treated to Bryan’s rendition of “Crash My Party,” which was filmed prior to the event.
Bryan was not available to accept the collaborative video award in person, but Aldean and Church both gave him shout-outs.
“I’ve got to thank, first of all, Eric, right here, and Luke Bryan, who is not here tonight,” Aldean said. “I know he’d be up here stumbling around his words for about five minutes, trying to thank everybody and probably crying. Thank you guys so much.”
“I want to thank Jason for letting us do it, CMT, the fans and Luke — wherever the hell he is,” Church added.
In addition, Hayes accepted an award for best new live act, presented by Nationwide Insurance. “This is awesome,” he said in a prerecorded speech. “Thank you, fans. This proves once again — you rock.”
In between acceptance speeches, fans enjoyed outstanding performances from Taylor Swift (“Red” ), Lady Antebellum (“Goodbye Town” ) and Keith Urban (“Little Bit of Everything”). Later on, Little Big Town kept fans on their feet as Urban joined them on a smoking rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”
After opening the show with Lenny Kravitz on “American Woman,” Aldean anchored the final half-hour by steaming up the plaza in front of Bridgestone Arena with “Night Train” while Carrie Underwood touched the audience with “See You Again,” performed in honor of tornado victims in her native Oklahoma. Underwood donated $1 million to the American Red Cross for tornado relief efforts in May.
Florida Georgia Line closed the fast-moving show with “Cruise,” jamming with special guest Nelly . While the fans inside couldn’t roll the windows down, there’s no doubt they were cruising into a country fan’s dream night.Check out a complete list of the winners.