CMT Artists of the Year: Behind the Scenes

Plenty of Socializing and a Dancing Dan Rather Filled the Room in Nashville

The CMT Artists of the Year special was on your TV screen Wednesday night (Dec. 2), but what you didn’t see was just as delightful.

Guests seated at the gorgeous Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville sipped on cocktails and fine wine as guests like Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman and Phillip Sweet mingled with stars like Trace Adkins, Martina McBride, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn and cast members from ABC’s Nashville.

During the commercial breaks, we all sang along and danced to Justin Bieber … except for the commercial break right before Chris Stapleton’s performance, where the CMA king unleashed his powerful voice in a vocal warm-up backstage for the entire auditorium to hear.

Kellie Pickler rushed over to speak to Stapleton, CMT’s Breakout Artist of the Year, during another break, while Blake Shelton kept busy hugging folks and shaking hands. He made it a point to greet Artist of a Lifetime honoree Kenny Rogers and iconic broadcaster Dan Rather.

Perhaps the greatest moment of the night was watching Rather clapping along to the music. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that.

But then again, maybe it does. Sam Hunt’s closing performance of “House Party” truly brought the house down and had everyone up and dancing like crazy.

And I will maintain until the day I die that when Hunt pointed to the back of the room during the song … he was pointing at me. Maybe it’s because I was dancing like a maniac.

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.