In early June, country’s hottest stars rocked Nashville’s Music City Center at the 2017 CMT Music Awards. Despite competing with the highest-rated NBA Finals in two decades, the show drew in more than 3 million fans to watch a night packed with performances, award presentations and a tribute to country legend Gregg Allman.
Nashville star and show host Charles Esten started the night with a celebrity-filled parody showcasing another of his many talents: comedy. Playing his Nashville character, Deacon Claybourne, Esten explored the “AirCMT” mansion – the commandeered home of Rayna Jaymes – alongside “The Darius” Rucker, who assumed the role of CMT president. Inside, stars such as Kellie Pickler, Billy Ray Cyrus and Little Big Town interact in an odd houseguest skit that creates a hilarious segue into the awards ceremony.
Esten’s hosting, the incredible performances and the spectacle of country’s biggest celebration helped the awards rank as the top Series/Special on Nielsen’s Social Content Ratings for the night and the number three Series/Special for the week. The show trended on Twitter for hours after the ceremony ended.
Here are a few more highlights from CMT’s star-studded evening.
A Showstopping Sendoff
While the CMT Awards celebrate country music’s current headliners, they also sometimes pay tribute to lost legends. Weeks before this year’s ceremony, the rock and country music communities mourned the loss of the iconic Gregg Allman.
A Nashville native, Allman’s influence throughout the music industry was strongly felt as he seamlessly blended multiple genres for the trademark sound of his band, The Allman Brothers. In tribute to Allman’s life and legacy, country all-stars including Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker and Charles Kelley belted out the 1971 Allman Brothers Band hit, Midnight Rider. Allman’s friend and former bandmate, Derek Trucks, capped off the memorable performance with a guitar solo.
Urban and Underwood Continue Their Winning Streak
As two of country’s consistent chart-toppers, it’s little surprise that Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban were among the top honorees at CMT’s ceremony. Urban ruled the evening with four wins, including Video of the Year, Male Video of the Year for Blue Ain’t Your Color, Collaborative Video of the Year with Carrie Underwood for The Fighter, and the #SOCIALSUPERSTAR Award presented by Pepsi.
In addition to winning for her collaboration with Urban, Underwood also took in the award for Female Video of the Year for Church Bells. Underwood has won the most awards (17) in the history of the CMT Music Awards. Other winners included Lauren Alaina for Breakthrough Video of the Year, Florida Georgia Line for Duo Video of the Year, and Jason Derulo/Luke Bryan for CMT Performance of the Year.
Music Genre Mash-Ups
Aside from being a celebration of country’s top talent and tunes, the show featured genre-blending performances, including The Chainsmokers and Florida Georgia Line rocking a rooftop with their new EDM/country creation Last Day Alive. Another hit highlight: Luke Bryan and Jason Derulo’s mix of Strip It Down and Want to Want Me.
While the night may have provided fans with perfect pop and country mash-ups, many performances celebrated the ceremony’s Southern roots. Some of the top performances of the evening included Miranda Lambert singing Pink Sunglasses, Thomas Rhett performing Craving You and Blake Shelton doing Every Time I Hear That Song.
Check out more highlights from the 2017 CMT Music Awards on CMT.com.