“What a special night this is for us and our team,” Hubbard said during the TV special that premiered Thursday (Oct. 20). “I’d like to say, first and foremost, thanks to the Lord for putting us here and allowing us to do what we love and be around so many great people. I want to thank my wife … for all the support through the hard times, the good times, the fun times, the not so fun times. I know it’s not easy to love a music man.”
Kelley thanked his wife for her support, as well, and reminded the audience that they’ve had plenty of help in achieving their continued success.
“I just want to thank our fans,” Kelley said. “Our fans are incredible, man. Thank you for growing with us, allowing us to grow and mature. …
“We’re extremely humbled to be here for a fourth year in a row. This so cool — a super-elite group of people to be in a class with. We’re just thankful to write our songs, play our music, travel. Our band, that’s been without us for a long time, doesn’t get enough recognition. We love you guys, our crew. It takes a big ol’ crew to make this thing run.
“You have to surround yourself with amazing people. I feel like we’ve done that. God really blessed us to work with an amazing team. … We have something amazing that’s bigger than ourselves, and that’s what it’s all about.”
The 2016 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).