Just about ten minutes into Wednesday night’s (Oct. 21) 2020 CMT Music Awards, things started getting really memorable really fast. Luke Combs shotgunned a beer from Kix Brooks. Musicians were wearing masks. And socially distanced fans were watching it go down from the bank along the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville. It was appropriately unprecedented.
Then came the awards and the offstage acceptance speeches.
1. One of the first artists of the night to win a CMT Music Award was Dan + Shay.
When the duo’s video for “I Should Probably Go To Bed” won the Duo Video of the Year award, they were gracious and grateful, as usual. “Thank you, CMT. Thank you so much for being in our corner since day one. It truly means the world,” Dan Smyers said. “To our fans: thank you so much for continuing to support us. You guys change our lives every single day.” Shay Mooney added to that by telling the fans, “We would not be where we are without you guys. And to our families, thank you for supporting and inspiring our music. And it’s amazing to get to do music with my best friend.”
2. Carrie Underwood was the next big winner of the night, when her “Drinking Alone” won Female Video of the Year.
“Thank you, CMT, first and foremost for still having this night, still giving us all something to look forward to and still having fun even though we’re not all right there hanging out together like we usually are. Thank you fans so much for voting. I haven’t got to see you guys hardly at all this year. Stuff like this means so much to me and just lets me know you’re still doing what you do, which is just giving the love. And I hope you feel it right back from me, because you guys are so amazing,” Underwood shared. “I don’t deserve you.”
3. Then Jennifer Nettles accepted CMT’s very first Equal Play award.
The honor was given to Nettles for her ongoing advocacy for women and for all diverse voices in the music industry, as she works to have more female voices heard on country music radio stations. “I have been so excited about this that I put on eye shadow, and that’s been a while. Thank you so much for this honor, CMT,” Nettles said. “Thank you to all the fans, and especially all the artists — my sisters out there — who continue to burn the holy fire. I am so proud to be a part of this legacy of women in country music with you, and I am so proud of the stories that we tell.”
4. The award for the CMT Performance of the Year went to Chris Young for his heartbreaking CMT Artists of the Year performance of his ballad “Drowning.”
“Man, this means so much to me,” Young said. “A huge, huge thank you to anybody who voted for this. This is all because of you. The reason that I’m here is because of you guys. I love y’all so much. CMT, thank you for this opportunity, especially for this song. Anyone who works with me knows not only how much this award means to me, but specifically for this performance of this song. I stepped in for Kane (Brown). He had just tragically lost a really close friend of his and that was really the meaning of this song. I knew a little bit about what he was going through and I know that was super emotional for him. And it was a really difficult moment for me to get up there and play that know that he was watching. But I was honored to step in and play this song.”
5. Luke Bryan’s “One Margarita” won the CMT Music Award for Male Video of the Year, and he was visibly humbled and honored.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. All of the fans out there who voted for the video, all of the people down at Crash My Playa, and my mother,” Bryan said. “I want to thank my mother for crashing my video and being the star. I certainly want to thank my wife Caroline, and Charles Kelley and his wife Cassie. It was such a fun video to do, and it was shot before we all went into quarantine, so it kind of gives us a glimpse of life and having fun before we all had to deal with this pandemic together.”
6. Next up was the CMT Music Award for Group Video of the Year, which went to Old Dominion for “One Man Band.”
The band’s frontman Matt Ramsey spoke on behalf of the five-man band, saying, “Super excited about this. This song has been so big for us, and this video was so amazing. We’re so proud of it, we’re so thankful for our whole team and to have each other to go through this with. Thank you fans, for supporting us and voting for us.” Then he grabbed the video’s director — Mason Allen — to join the group so that the fans watching at home could see who was behind the scenes of the award-winning video.
7. Close to the end of the show, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were there to pick up their award for Collaborative Video of the Year for “Nobody But You.”
“We did it,” Shelton said as her hugged his girlfriend. “Absolutely unbelievable. First of all, thank you Gwen Stefani. I told Gwen that when I saw who the other nominees were in our category, literally, it was like, ’Well. It would’ve been cool, but I don’t know what our chances of beating Justin Bieber are.’ (Bieber and Dan + Shay’s “10,000 Hours” was one of the other nominees.) But here we are. So thank you so much, first of all, to the fans. I really do believe that these awards shows are beginning to lose credibility over the last few years, and fan-voted awards to me are really the only stand-up awards shows left in our industry it feels like sometimes. Because you guys are the ones who buy the records, you come to the shows, and you vote on all these things. We love y’all so much,” Shelton said as he and Stefani raised their martini glasses in a toast to their extremely loyal fans.