Luke Combs, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and Chris Stapleton Named CMT Artists of the Year

After changing its format in 2020 to honor frontline workers of the pandemic—healthcare workers, the food industry, members of the military, business owners, educators, and crisis innovators—CMT’s Artists of the Year special is returning to honor the best in country music. The recipients of the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year award include Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, and Luke Combs.

According to the release, the five artists were chosen because they “collectively dominated the last 12 months in country music, leading across all CMT platforms, scoring chart-topping albums and singles, while simultaneously finding creative ways to connect with fans and meet the personal and professional challenges posed by the pandemic.”

“We are honored to recognize these five incredible artists who have entertained and inspired millions through their music this past year,” said Margaret Comeaux, Vice President, Production, in a statement. “We look forward to returning to the Schermerhorn with a live show as we celebrate the accomplishments of Chris, Kane, Kelsea, Gabby, and Luke.” 

The 90-minute special will air live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Wednesday, October 13 at 9p/8c.

Previous recipients of the award include:

2010 – Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, and Zac Brown Band 

2011– Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, and Kenny Chesney

2012 – Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood.

2013 – Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes, and Florida Georgia Line.

2014 – Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, and Keith Urban

2015 – Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, and Sam Hunt.

2016 – Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, and Thomas Rhett.

2017 – Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban.

2018 –  Honoring Women of Country Music – Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, and Kimberly Schlapman, and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott. 

2019 –  Carrie Underwood, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, and Thomas Rhett as well  Ashley McBryde. Artist of a lifetime honoree Reba McEntire.

2020 – Rebranded as “CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists of the Year Special.”

Don’t miss The 2021 CMT Artists of the Year LIVE from Nashville on Wednesday, October 13th at 9p/8c.

Photos of Kane Brown by Matthew Berinato ; Gabby Barrett by Gus Black ; Luke Combs by Zach Massey; Courtesy CMT

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