2021 CMT Artists of the Year honoree Chris Stapleton noting that 544 days passing between his live performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the level of heart and passion the Starting Over vocalist has for his craft as a country superstar. However, Nashville actress Connie Britton stating that six years had passed since Chris Stapleton was honored -- for the first of now, four times -- as a CMT 2021 Artist of the Year noted the breadth and scope of his career's success.
Britton added how multi-genre jumping via collaborations with the likes of Justin Timberlake and H.E.R. was one of the trademarks of his career. This dovetailed into R & B icons Boyz II Men being joined by a live band and Pentatonix member Kevin Olusola for a uniquely stirring rendition of Stapleton's 2020-released track "Cold."
"Chris, you're a real one. You let us all know that soul, good singing, and a heart of gold can still be prevalent in music," remarked Shawn Stockman, one-third of the artists famed for "Motownphilly." The CMT Artists of the Year crowd broke into a rousing hand-clap break, and Boyz II Men's performance — complete with beat-boxing and stringed instruments — took the awards event to another level.
"That's not Chris Stapleton's 'Cold,' that's Boyz II Men's 'Cold,'" said Stapleton as he accepted his honor. For Stapleton, his fourth time being honored as one of CMT’s Artists of the Year adds to nine ASCAP Country Music Awards, five Grammy Awards, seven Academy of Country Music Awards, and ten Country Music Association Awards among his numerous career accomplishments.