If 2020 had gone as planned, the annual CMT Music Awards would've been passed out at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, made that impossible, bringing the virtual CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists of the Year Special in its place.
The two-hour extravaganza featured much-loved covers appropriate to the times, as well as several songs inspired by life during coronavirus.
Darius Rucker lent his baritone to Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen," while Kelsea Ballerini took on the Carole King/James Taylor classic, "You've Got a Friend." Sam Hunt did a deep dive into Bruce Springsteen's catalog for "Jack of All Trades," tipping his hat to "American resolve."
Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire highlighted the contributions of educators, while Thomas Rhett gave a shout-out to his daughters' teachers before doing his uplifting single, "Be a Light." Luke Combs reminded us to stay "Six Feet Apart," while Florida Georgia Line got patriotic on "U.S. Stronger."
Keith Urban thanked those who keep the food cycle going, while Blake Shelton profiled the town of Kodiak, Alaska, where they've transformed schools into food pantries. Brothers Osborne gave two frontline workers in their Delaware hometown $25,000 each.
Performances by Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw rounded out the night, with Jason Aldean, Zac Brown, and actor Sean Penn making appearances as well.
Kane Brown closed the evening with "Stand by Me."
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