The CMT Music Awards offered up plenty of sizzle, star power and spirit during Sunday night’s (April 2) talent-packed show at Austin’s Moody Center.
Blake Shelton kicked off the show’s first-ever broadcast live from Texas with a honky tonk-filled performance of his hit “No Body,” and got the ball rolling for a night filled with collaborations and time traveling hits.
Jelly Roll had plenty to sing about as the night’s top CMTMA winner, taking home three of the trophies for Male Video of the Year, Breakthrough Male Video of the Year and Digital-First Performance. The grateful singer-songwriter took the crowd to church with his stirring, soulful rendition of his single “Need A Favor,” backed by the Huston-Tillotson University choir.
Kane Brown and wife Katelyn Brown made history during the evening as the first married couple to take home the night’s biggest award, marking Katelyn’s very first CMT win and Kane’s first Video of the Year trophy. The two world premiered their No. 1 duet “Thank God” from the Congress Avenue Stage during the show, making the night a true family affair and triumph.
As the year’s most-nominated artist, Lainey Wilson brought plenty of her bell-bottomed spunk to the stage, firing up the night belting out her buoyant hit “Heart Like A Truck,” and later taking home the award for Female Video of the Year for that track in addition to Collaborative Video of the Year with Hardy.
Wilson also joined in the fiery Next Women of Country collaboration fun on Alanis Morissette‘s “You Outta Know,” along with Madeline Edwards, Ingrid Andress and Morgan Wade in celebration of 10 years of CMT’s NWOC initiative, providing some bite in the night.
Gwen Stefani and Carly Pearce kept the girl power coming full force when they took to the Moody Center stage to celebrate a world premiere and cross-genre collaboration of the No Doubt hit, “Just a Girl.” Pearce also offered up a soulful rendition of her No. 1 hit, “What He Didn’t Do,” during the telecast as well.
Darius Rucker and rockers The Black Crowes kept the ’90s vibes flowing with their duet of the band’s iconic hit “She Talks to Angels,” following their outdoor taping of an upcoming episode of CMT Crossroads earlier in the week.
Wynonna and Ashley McBryde joined forces to perform a first-time duet of the hit Foreigner power ballad, “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” and co-host Kelsea Ballerini broke the news that “The Judds: Love Is Alive – The Final Concert” special event will premiere April 29 on CMT.
Lone star state favorite Cody Johnson struck a powerful chord in one of the quieter moments of the night with his moving performance of his biographical hit single “Human” for the home state crowd. In another nod to the Lone Star state, Austin native Gary Clark Jr. brought down the house with a grooving jam session tribute to Texas blues rock legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Crossover icon Shania Twain accepted the 2023 Equal Play Award for her boundary-shattering career and influence in elevating underrepresented voices. Twain delivered a heartfelt speech on how much Equal Play means to her and the importance of including everyone regardless of gender or age in country music. Texas native Megan Thee Stallion honored Twain with an inspiring tribute highlighting her career, advocacy, and impact.
Carrie Underwood, the most awarded artist in CMT history, set off fireworks during her electrifying performance of her fan-favorite single “Hate My Heart” in front of the iconic Texas Capitol building, and Keith Urban thrilled fans with a rousing rendition of “Brown Eyes Baby” from the streets of downtown Austin during the celeb-packed show. Ballerini also appeared in a confetti-filled performance of “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” featuring four iconic queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race: Manila Luzon, Kennedy Davenport, Jan Sport and Olivia Lux.
The genre-bending night concluded with a smoking Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute to the late great, Gary Rossington, with Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash, and Warren Haynes with LeAnn Rimes and Wynonna as honorary “Honkettes” on “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”