2024 CMT Music Awards: Seven Things You Missed

Kelsea, Keith, Jelly Little Big Town, Sugarland and more made the 2024 CMT Music Awards a night to remember. CMT will encore the 2024 CMT Music Awards on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on the network.

From band reunions to viral dances and looking back to looking forward, the 2024 CMT Music Awards had something for everyone on Sunday night.

Kelsea Ballerini hosted the 2024 CMT Music Awards, which aired LIVE from Austin, Texas’ Moody Center on Sunday. If you missed it, CMT will encore the 2024 CMT Music Awards on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on the network.

Here are seven highlights:

  • Jelly Roll dominated

Jelly Roll entered the night tied for the most nominations with Lainey Wilson, Cody Johnson, Kelsea Ballerini and Megan Moroney. He won everything he was nominated for, including the night’s top honor - Video of the Year. He also took the trophy for Male Video of the Year, making him the first person to win the category back-to-back since Blake Shelton accomplished the feat a decade ago. This third win came for CMT Performance of the Year from his inspired version of “Need a Favor” at the 2023 CMT Music Awards.

“I love you, Austin, Texas,” Jelly Roll said. “This is a moment I want to take to thank the fans for everything they’ve done for me. I want to thank God. I want to thank my beautiful wife and my daughter at home. One year ago, I was invited to perform at my first awards show, and I walked on this stage, and I sang ‘Need A Favor’ on national television for the first time right here. What I am emotional about is that in the last year, you have changed my life in every way I would have never thought my life could be changed.”

He closed the show with a charged performance of “Halfway to Hell” that seems destined to win him a nomination on next year’s show.

  • They’re baaaack – Sugarland and Little Big Town

Sugarland and Little Big Town teamed for an inspired cover of Phil Collins' “Take Me Home.” In addition to having possibly the most classy and creative stage production of the night, the six singers – LBT’s Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Philip Sweet and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian – also brought flawless, timeless harmonies to the classic that Bush and Fairchild co-produced. Nettles' voice soared, proving that even though she hasn’t been seen on a country music stage for years, she hasn’t lost her abilities.

The remarkable reunion leans on the groups’ first CMT Music Awards performance together a decade ago when they took the stage with Jake Owen for “Life In A Northern Town” – a collaboration that led to a Grammy nomination.

“Take Me Home” is available on streaming services now. The bands also used the opportunity to announce their Take Me Home Tour – tickets for which go on sale this week.

  • Kelsea Ballerini hosts solo, celebrates 10 years of “Love Me Like You Mean It”

Ballerini has been a fixture in the hosting role at the CMT Music Awards for years, but Sunday night, she revealed that 2024 would be her last. However, she didn’t end the gig with a whimper. Ballerini hosted the gig solo, proving she can own any spotlight without needing another star to share the weight. She kicked off the show by needling herself over her visible disappointment that was captured on television at another award show recently when she lost a trophy to another female artist. She looped boyfriend Chase Stokes in on the fun during a mind-reading bit that also included Lainey Wilson. And she did it all walking the fine line between being one of the world’s most beautiful women and being the funny, engaging and open friend that every woman wishes lived next door.

When Ballerini took the stage for her “Love Me Like You Mean It” tribute, there was an ethereal quality to her song performance. The stage production included illuminated wristbands for the audience that left like stars had fallen to the stage for Ballerini’s new, mature version of her breakthrough hit.

  • Toby Keith tribute

Brooks & Dunn, Sammy Hagar, Riley Green, Lukas Nelson, Lainey Wilson and former Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens team to pay tribute to Toby Keith with one of the most memorable performances at the 2024 CMT Music Awards Sunday night.

Keith, who sold more than 44 million albums and recently received a posthumous induction into the 2024 Country Music Hall of Fame, lost his prolonged battle with cancer in February.

Throughout his career, the proud Oklahoman released 61 singles that charted on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and 32 of them made it to No. 1. In 2021, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

The three-song tribute kicked off Brooks & Dunn doing a reimagined version of Keith’s breakthrough hit “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” which reduced Keith’s family to tears in the audience. At the end of the last chorus, Brooks took his cowboy hat off and raised it in the air.

Hagar changed things up a bit when he took his turn in the spotlight. The ‘80s rocker explained he and Keith had spent much time together in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, over the years and had closed down his Cabo Wabo Cantina many times.

“It’s hard to get thrown out of your own bar, but we did it,” Hagar said.

Keith’s band backed every song in the tribute and launched into “I Love This Bar,” which Hagar covered with gusto as if it were his own hit.

Nelson and Green shared memories of Keith and introduced Wilson to close out the medley.

She bounded onstage for a spirited cover of “How Do You Like Me Now,” complete with a football field on the screen behind her.

Clemmons took the stage, asked the audience in the center and watching on television to raise their red solo cups in the air and repeat after him – “Whiskey For My Men, Beer For My Horses.”

He thanked Keith’s kids and his wife, Tricia, for sharing her husband with the world, provoking Keith’s family to tear up again.

  • Trisha Yearwood brings open heart, enduring class

In her first CMT Music Awards appearance since 2019, Yearwood received the inaugural June Carter Cash Humanitarian Award and premiered a new song she co-wrote, “Put It In a Song,” from her upcoming album, which is packed with tracks she penned.

“I’ve performed on awards shows a bunch of times, but yesterday in rehearsal, I got real emotional because this is a real new venture for me,” Yearwood said, meaning that she doesn’t typically co-write so much of her albums. “It’s a real vulnerable place to be, and this is a song about that. It’s about how if you can’t say it out loud, if it’s too much, just write it down. It’s like therapy.”

Exuding glamour and grace, Yearwood sounded timeless as she sang: There’s comfort in a melody, and my heart keeps on telling me, I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way.

She was equally eloquent when accepting the June Carter Cash Humanitarian Award. The honor recognizes an artist, duo/group or industry veteran who demonstrates exceptional dedication to the community and their fellow artists, as Carter Cash did.

Yearwood called Carter Cash “a force” and said she was “married to a force.”

“I know a little about a life like that,” Yearwood said. “I only hope I can be as big a part of my community as she was. My hope is that we can all learn a little from June Carter Cash’s legacy, be a little more real, a little more vulnerable, a little less about me, and a little more about us. I look at this as a challenge and a calling. Garth and I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected.”

  • Sparks fly on Parker McCollum and Brittney Spencer “Burn It Down” Duet

Two of country music’s brightest up-and-comers paired for a version of McCollum’s brokenhearted No. 1 hit. While their styles are typically different, the singers owned the stage with charisma and confidence as if “Burn It Down” was written to be a duet between them.

Fire illuminated the stage magnifying the intensity as they stood toe-to-toe singing to each other.

  • The unparalleled Keith Urban

At 56 years old, Keith Urban was among the most mature artists on stage during the CMT Music Awards – but he was also among the most exciting. Urban expanded his band and always one to redirect the spotlight, brought in two young females – Anna Vaus and Maggie Baugh – to perform “Straight Line” with him on stage. A rare combination of natural born artist and true entertainer, Urban knows how the slightest look or movement can engage his audience. He doesn’t skimp on the on-stage spectacles, but he also never needs them. What makes Urban an artist of a lifetime is that can simultaneously do an overhead view, assimilate the whole picture and then shrink the environment and edit it in a way to make each person feel like he’s singing just to him. The fact that skill also translates on television speaks volumes about his deep understanding of his craft, his fans and music lovers.

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