“One of my buddies Luke Bryan is not here tonight and dealing with some family stuff in Georgia,” Aldean said. “I just want to say, [we’re] thinking about you and your family. Our thoughts are prayers are with you all. We love you guys and hurry back to the country music world.”
Aldean accepted his award from Kenny Chesney, his touring partner on select stadium dates in 2015. Before making his remarks, Aldean watched from the audience as a highlights reel recapped his year.
“I’ve got a lot of people to thank. I mean, obviously you don’t get to do the things we do without having a ton of people to help you out,” he added. Kudos went out to his mom, dad, stepmom, fiancee, two daughters, record label, booking agent, tour promoters, fans, country radio and CMT.
“I mean, CMT’s been such a huge part of what I’ve done from the beginning,” he observed. “So, thank you guys for always playing videos and letting us have an outlet for that stuff, for throwing the show tonight.”
In addition, Aldean noted, “All of the other artists — I’ve been out on tour I think with everybody here, so it’s always been fun to play with you guys and get to know you over the years.”
Aldean is the only performer to be recognized at all five CMT Artists of the Year specials. He performed “Just Gettin’ Started” at the beginning of the show with support from Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. The 90-minute show aired live from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.