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“Son of a Sinner” singer Jelly Roll was the big winner at the CMT Music Awards, as the rapper-turned-country singer took home three awards Sunday as an outsider who won over fans with her confessional lyrics.
The tattooed singer became emotional during the event in Austin, Texas, which aired on CBS, as he thanked the country radio industry for recognizing him and gave a shout-out to those who felt the same way he did.
“You can be whatever you want to be. I promise you. I told them I wanted to be a country singer and I’m standing here at the CMT Awards with Male Video of the Year, baby!” she shouted.
The night before, he brought out a choir for his prayer-themed song “Need a Favor” and had the crowd raising their hands to the ceiling.
Casey Delauer was interviewed on “Entertainment Tonight,” which also provided a full list of winners.
The show began on a somber note as country singer and co-host Kelsey Ballerini read out the names of the six victims. was killed in a school shooting in Nashville on Monday, Tennessee. He noted how he shares their pain, explaining that in 2008 he witnessed a school shooting in the high school cafeteria in his hometown of Knoxville, and prayed for “real action” that would protect children and families. Earlier in the evening, country artists honored the victims of the shooting by wearing black ribbons on the red carpet.
But the show overall prioritized nostalgia as the performances fused rock, blues and country straight from the heart of Texas, mixing in tributes and covers alongside new artists and fan-favorite hits.
Country superstar and five-time Grammy winner Shania Twain was presented with the Equal Play Award, recognizing her as a “visible and vocal advocate” for diverse voices in country music. Texas native and Grammy-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion introduced Twain and the pair danced and covered Twain’s hit, “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.”
Twain said the song’s lyrics became an undercurrent to a decade-long advocacy career.
“I promise that I will continue to champion the many outstanding country artists that are currently not played, streamed, toured, signed or rewarded at the level they deserve,” Twain said. “I believe in an all-inclusive country music.”
Lainey Wilson won Female Video of the Year twice for “Heart Like a Truck” and Collaborative Video of the Year for “Wet in the Truck” with Hardy.
“My heart’s about to pound out of my chest, I’ll be honest with you,” Wilson said after winning Female Video of the Year, calling the hit song “scratches, dents and an anthem for doing the live” bumps along the way.
Co-host Ken Brown took home the final award of the night with his wife Katelyn, winning video of the year for their duet, “Thank God.”
“This is all new to me. And when we recorded this song a year ago, I never in my life thought it would happen,” said Caitlin Brown.
Later in the show, ballerinas were joined on stage by drag artists, as states around the country considered legally restricting drag show performances. The Tennessee native sang “If You Go Down” and danced with Kennedy Davenport, Jan Sport, Manila Luzon and Olivia Lux, on the show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Ballerini’s home state of Tennessee was the first to impose stricter restrictions on drag show performances, which were set to take effect this month. The law is Temporarily blocked After filing a lawsuit earlier this week.
The collaboration took center stage for most of the three-hour show. Country Music Hall of Famers Winona Judd and Ashley McBride performed a cover of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” as a thick fog swept over the stage and into the crowd.
Pop singer Stefani has no doubts about her mid-1990s pop-punk hit “Just a Girl” with country singer Carly Pearce. Rocker Alanis Morissette brought more ’90s rock to the stage with a group performance of “You Never Know” featuring Wilson, Ingrid Andres, Madeleine Edwards and Morgan Wade.
Carrie Underwood, the most awarded artist in CMT history with 25 awards, performed “Hate My Heart” as fireworks lit up the Austin night. Four-time Grammy winner Clark Jr. performed a tribute to the late Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan at the top of the show.
Southern rocker Lynyrd Skynyrd was honored with a tribute performance that followed Last original member Gary Rossington died in March.
ET’s Joe Phillips noted that guitarist Peter Frampton “made a rare appearance on stage” to honor Rossington.
“Frampton stops performing in 2022 amid diagnosis of a rare muscle disease,” Phillips wrote. Frampton took the stage with a cane and told the crowd, ‘I’m here tonight to honor a friend and tour mate of mine, Gary Rossington, who was a Southern rock icon. He was an original founding member of the beloved group Lynyrd Skynyrd. , Ronnie Van Zant. And alongside Alan Collins.'”
Phillips said, “Frampton added that Gary’s wife, Dale, and daughter, Mary, were in attendance, along with Ricky Medlock, Ronnie Van Zant’s widow, Judy, and his granddaughter, Arai. He introduced Cody Johnson, Billy Gibbons, Billy Gibbons. Regards Paul Rogers, Slash, Chuck Leavell, Warren Haynes, Winona Judd and LeAnn Rimes to perform.”