Tennesse: The CMT Music Awards honoured the music industry on Wednesday. Carrie Underwood and John Legend won video of the year for their song Hallelujah. It featured on her Christmas album last year. “Congratulations on what I believe is your first CMT Award!” a grateful person Underwood told Legend, who was not present, a fact she correctly guessed based on the limited number of country songs in which her duet partner had appeared thus far. The song’s cross-genre vibe was carried over to the show’s performances, with H.E.R. collaborating with Chris Stapleton, Gladys Knight collaborating with Mickey Guyton and Breland, Kelsea Ballerini collaborating with LANY’s Paul Jason Klein, and Underwood herself participating.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! 🙌 Congratulations from @CMT and @SeeHerOfficial to @carrieunderwood and @johnlegend for winning Video of the Year at the 2021 #CMTAwards! #SeeHer Hear Her pic.twitter.com/UYveiFWfup
— CMT (@CMT) June 10, 2021
In the fan-voted awards, co-hosts Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown both took home prizes, with the latter being the only double-winner of the night, for male video of the year Worship You and collaborative video Famous Friends, with Chris Young. Ballerini earned CMT performance of the year for her duet with Halsey, The Other Girl, from last year’s awards presentation. She picked up her first CMT.
The CMT Awards were definitely aiming for a large representation of female and Black performers this year… and female Black performers in particular, with much of the conversation about country music’s shutout status narrowing on that largely unseen junction.
Taylor Swift was the only other absentee winner. So winning best family feature for the old-VHS-footage-filled video for The Best Day (Taylor’s Version) in a category. She received the award off-camera. Also, in the final days that category was introduced.
Linda Martell, 80, received a special CMT Equal Play Award. She is the first Black woman to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Also to chart on the radio, a feat that has not been replicated to any considerable degree since, as Mickey Guyton pointed out in her introduction.
The programme included an exceptionally high number of coloured artists — especially for a country performance, as the asterisk indicates. The inclusion in a single number of Knight, Guyton, and emerging male singer Breland may have been a watershed event for a Nashville-based awards ceremony. H.E.R., Kane Brown, and Blanco Brown considerably increased the show’s Black presence.
Little Big Town won duo/group of the year for Wine, Beer, Whiskey. While Dylan Scott won freshman of the year for Nobody. Presenter Knight collected Gabby Barrett’s award for female video of the year for The Good Ones.