When Kelsea Ballerini took the stage to sing her third No. 1 single, “Peter Pan,” at the 2016 CMT Artists of the Year, it was an awards show moment that showed women in music at their best: They genuinely support one another.
When Ballerini soared into the chorus, cameras caught Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood in the audience singing along to the lyrics that Ballerini co-wrote with hit-makers Jesse Lee and Forest Glen Whitehead. The smile on Ballerini’s face showed she was visually moved by their show of support.
Then Arsenio Hall, Ballerini’s co-host on ABC’s Greatest Hits, presented her with her trophy during the special that premiered Thursday night (Oct. 20).
“CMT,” she said, “you guys have been not only such big supporters of me and champions for me, but for new girls and so I just want to say thank you. I’m so stoked to walk alongside Lauren Alaina and Cam and Maren Morris and Maddie & Tae and all the amazing women that we get to come up together. It’s been so much fun. So, thank you CMT for your support of us.”
Then her throat made a funny noise when she realized she was breathing the same air as Twain.
“I’m nervous,” she admitted, “That’s Shania Twain!”
Ballerini wrapped her acceptance speech on an emotional note, by dedicating her award to her grandfather who passed away that afternoon before the taping.
“So this is for you,” she said.
The CMT Artists of the Year special re-airs Friday (9:30 a.m. ET/PT), Saturday (6 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. ET/PT) and Sunday (12 p.m. ET/PT). Ballerini’s fellow honorees are Underwood, Twain, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Chris Stapleton.