CMT Artists of the Year Special: All the Unforgettable Performances

by Tia Bailey
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

The CMT AOTY celebration took place on Friday, and the performances were amazing. Artists such as Carly Pearce and Cody Johnson performed.

The celebration brought some of the year’s best country stars to the stage to be celebrated. Singer/songwriter Carly Pearce performed a beautiful, stripped-down version of her song “29.” The song talks about what people think being 29 is supposed to look like versus her experience.

“But for me, twenty-nine
Is the year that I got married and divorced
I held on for dear life, but I still fell off the horse
From a Miss to a Mrs. then the other way around
The yеar I was gonna live it up
Now I’m never gonna livе it down.”

Not only did she perform the stunning song, but she was also backed by an award-winning artist — CMA Musician of the Year Jeneé Fleenor.

Walker Hayes, the mind behind “Fancy Like,” which went viral on TikTok, gave a surprise performance that also doubled as a debut. R&B star Ciara performed “Y’all Life” along with Hayes for a new collab.

3-time Artist of the Year winner Kane Brown also gave a show-stopping performance of his song “I Love You Like I Love Country Music.” He was joined onstage by dancers who made the performance even more fun to watch.

Alan Jackson received a huge award prior to his performance — Artist of a Lifetime. After he accepted the coveted award, he had the audience dancing and singing along to “Chattahoochee.”

This is only a handful of the incredible performances audiences were treated to throughout the evening. It was clear all of the stars were meant to be there and be celebrated.

Loretta Lynn Receives Tribute From Her Sisters at CMT AOTY Celebration

A particularly touching part of the evening also came with a heartwarming performance. Loretta Lynn, the country legend who sadly passed away on October 4, was honored by her sisters Crystal Gayle and Peggy Sue.

The sisters were introduced by Tanya Tucker, who also grew up as a close friend of Loretta’s. She shared childhood memories she had with the late star, and the emotions in the room were very high.

“It’s so special to me that we can take a moment to celebrate her tonight,” she shared. “I have been so blessed with the gift of her music and also with the gift of her friendship. She guided me through this business even before we met.”

She brought out Crystal Gayle and Peggy Sue, who sang a beautiful cover of one of Loretta’s most well-known and well-loved hits, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Videos of Loretta played in the background throughout the performance.

The ladies received a deserved standing ovation, and tears were flowing in the crowd as the legend was honored at the show.