The 2017 CMT Artists of the Year special was much different from that of years past. As this years’ honorees took the stage, they made it clear that this year the show was less about the artists and more about the fans.
Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban stood solemnly on stage together and reflected on the tragic events that have taken place in recent weeks, including the tragic shooting that took place at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
“Music can be so powerful and we’ve never needed it more than we do right now,” Bryan said in the segment opening. “Music moves us. Music brings us together. And tonight music can be a part of the healing.”
“From Las Vegas to Puerto Rico, from Florida and Texas to Charlottesville and California, the entire nation is trying to process these devastating events,” Chris Stapleton said. “But on this night, one that we usually celebrate a year of music, we also want to celebrate a year of incredible human spirit. A spirit that we see in our fans every night.”
With moving performances from the honorees and other artists who wanted to pay tribute, the CMT special celebrated and honored every country music fan who has been affected by these tragedies.
During the show’s conclusion, honorees Jason Aldean, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban were joined by Little Big Town for a heartfelt cover of Tom Petty’s anthem of resilience, “I Won’t Back Down.” The performance brought the star-studded crowd to its feet and brought a message of hope to everyone listening.
Watch the performance in full in the video below.