Florida Georgia Line Interview: CMT Artists of the Year

Breakout Duo Reflect on Their Rocket-Ship Rise to the Top

Country music historians will remember 2013 as the year of Florida Georgia Line. In the days leading up to the fourth annual CMT Artists of the Year special, the duo’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are still trying to process the reality of their multiplatinum success.

During a celebration Tuesday (Dec. 3) in Nashville, CMT will honor Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes and Tim McGraw for their formidable accomplishments this year.

In Florida Georgia Line’s case, the career milestones include “Cruise,” a No. 1 country hit that turned into a crossover smash in a remixed version with a famous rapper.

“This year has been so crazy and awesome and such a dream come true, it’s really tough to nail one thing down as the big accomplishment,” Hubbard told CMT Hot 20 Countdown . “But I’d say working with Nelly was a big thing for us. That was definitely a huge honor and really cool and a great experience.”

“Being on the Alabama and Friends tribute album was huge,” Kelley added. “We’re huge Alabama fans, always have been, so to be on a record with them and all the amazing other artists was just a dream come true. … I’m very proud to be a part of that.”

“I’d say also winning ACM new artist of the year was huge,” Hubbard continued. “That was a shock to us and really a testament to how awesome our fans have been this year. To win that and take that home was just a big night for us and really set into perspective where we’re headed and that fact that our hard work’s paying off.”

Where they were headed was to the CMT Music Awards where “Cruise” won video of the year and breakthrough video of the year honors. A few months later, they were named vocal duo of the year at the CMA Awards where “Cruise” captured single of the year honors.

The duo will take a night off from the busy schedule on their headlining tour to attend the CMT Artists of the Year festivities. Admittedly, they’re looking forward to an unforgettable evening.

CMT Artist of the Year, that show is just huge,” Kelley said. “It’s a huge honor for us to even be there. … The past year and a-half, two years for us, it’s been an incredible ride, and we’re excited about getting to hang out with all the other artists, just enjoying our friends, enjoying the fans and enjoying our team.”

For the first time, the CMT Artists of the Year special will premiere live on CMT and CMT.com. The show airs Tuesday (Dec. 3) at 8 p.m. ET.