Chris Stapleton was honored at the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year awards ceremony on October 13. To honor Stapleton, Boys II Men, who were joined by Pentatonix‘s Kevin Olusola, performed a rendition of the singer’s 2020 hit “Cold.”
“I don’t think that’s Chris Stapleton’s ‘Cold’ anymore,” said Stapleton after the performance. “That’s Boys II Men’s ‘Cold’ now.”
Accepting his award from friend Connie Britton, Stapleton said he was “humbled” by the CMT’s honor and moved by all the love in the room. “This show, it’s different tonight,” says Stapleton. “This is the first time I’ve been in a room. We’ve done a lot of these things remotely, but I feel a lot of love in the room tonight. And that’s what music is about. It’s about love.”
Stapleton added, “I’m so grateful to be in the room with all the people that I’m in the room with right now. It’s inspiring to listen to your performances. It’s so inspiring to hear your words and stories. I’m humbled to be in the room with some of the folks that I’m in here with tonight.”
The annual event, which returned to its live setting at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville for the first time since 2019, also honored artists Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, and Luke Combs. This year’s Breakout Artist of the Year was Mickey Guyton and the Artist of a Lifetime award went to Randy Travis who was introduced by his friend Garth Brooks.
The evening kicked off with a performance by Luke Combs who sang his hit, “Forever After All,” and Combs later accepted his Artist of the Year award from friend Eric Church. Gabby Barrett watched a moving rendition of her hit, performed by Michael W. Smith, along with her husband and guitarist. Additionally, honoree Kane Brown, who was introduced by Nelly, went on to honor Travis by singing his 2002 hit, “Three Wooden Crosses.”
“I’m grateful to play music,” said a very emotional Stapleton by the end of his speech. “This is meaningful… tonight is so special. Thank you.”
Photo Credit: CMT