CMT Awards return Sunday night with host Kelsea Ballerini, tribute to late Toby Keith


The CMT Music Awards, celebrating the best in country music videos, are set to return on Sunday night live from Austin, Texas.

Hosted by Kelsea Ballerini, the fan-voted show begins at 8 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast from the Moody Center on CBS and Paramount+.

This year, the awards are expected to feature a tribute to the late Toby Keith performed by Brooks & Dunn, Lainey Wilson and Sammy Hagar and backed by Keith’s longtime band.

Keith, a hit country crafter of pro-American anthems who riled up critics and was loved by millions of fans, died in February at 62 after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Ballerini, Wilson, Jelly Roll, Megan Moroney and Cody Johnson lead the nominations with three each.

All those artists, except for Moroney, are up for the night’s biggest honor: video of the year.

Scheduled performers include Bailey Zimmerman, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Dasha, Jason Aldean, Johnson and Moroney.

There are expected to be a few collaborative sets, as well: Little Big Town will perform with Sugarland, marking the first time the latter’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush will reunite on the CMT stage since 2011. Other scheduled joint performances include NEEDTOBREATHE and Jordan Davis and Sam Hunt and Trisha Yearwood.

Yearwood will receive the inaugural June Carter Cash Humanitarian Award, which honors musicians or industry veterans who demonstrate “an exceptional dedication to community and their fellow artists, embodying June’s spirit as a fierce advocate and initiator in paying it forward,” a statement said.

Yearwood also is expected to debut a new track, “Put It in a Song,” the first from a forthcoming album.


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