Jason Aldean Receives the Accolade Five Years in a Row; Keith Urban is a First-Time Honoree

Merle Haggard Given the First Ever “Artist of a Lifetime” Award

Hosted by Larry the Cable Guy with Special Guests Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Chris Stapleton, Chris Cornell, Merle Haggard, Wiz Khalifa and Danica Patrick in Attendance

Red Carpet Photos, Fashion and Show Clips Available For Download Now

NASHVILLE – December 2, 2014 – Music City celebrated the successes of five of its own tonight as Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban were honored as this year’s CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR, while icon Merle Haggard received the inaugural “Artist of a Lifetime” Award. Simulcast on VH1 and hosted by Larry the Cable Guy, the five honorees were applauded by their peers and other superstars during an exclusive night of special performances and appearances in the 90-minute special broadcast live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Honoree Jason Aldean appropriately kicked-off the night performing his latest single, “Just Gettin’ Started” alongside singer/songwriter and special guest Chris Cornell. Larry the Cable Guy, dressed for the first time ever in a black suit (paired with a baseball cap) then welcomed the crowd to officially get the party started.

Kenny Chesney presented an award to the first honoree of the evening, Jason Aldean. The pair will tour together for a round of stadium shows next summer. The five-time honoree thanked his family, fiancé, fans and especially CMT for being such a huge part of his career since the beginning. He also gave a special shout-out to buddy and fellow honoree Luke Bryan, who could not attend the event due to a death in his family.

Auto racing driver Danica Patrick was up next to introduce “badass sweetheart” and honoree Miranda Lambert as she performed “Holding Onto You.” Friend and fellow country artist Ashley Monroe presented Lambert her award, and the superstar was a bit emotional as she thanked her family and her fans for supporting her music.

In one of the show’s most poignant moments, Lady Antebellum took the stage and told the audience that their friend and honoree Luke Bryan could not attend the show due to a family death – Bryan’s beloved brother-in-law passed away over the weekend. Lady Antebellum was joined by Chris Stapleton and they sang a heartfelt version of Bryan’s hit co-written by Stapleton, “Drink a Beer,” a touching song about the loss of a loved one.

Florida Georgia Line took the stage next performing their latest single “Sun Daze.” Hip-hop star Wiz Khalifa presented the award to the duo as they thanked their industry representatives and their fans for continuing to love what they do.

Rocker Chris Cornell then returned to the stage to introduce first-time honoree Keith Urban as he performed a never-before-seen version of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” backed by what Cornell referred to as his “hottest band yet,” a fifteen-person, all-female band with a horn and string section. As Urban received his award he also sent love and prayers to Luke Bryan, and thanked CMT, his fans and country radio. Urban gave a special thank you to his biggest supporter, wife Nicole Kidman, who was sitting in the audience, for giving everything he does purpose.

Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton made a special appearance to present country icon and one of the greatest storytellers of all time Merle Haggard the first-ever “Artist of a Lifetime” award. Haggard was honored by Eric Church, Ashley Monroe and T Bone Burnett in a special performance of his classic “Workin’ Man Blues.” The legend accepted his award in true Merle fashion by simply stating, “Anything I would say would be short of the mark,” before making his way off stage.

Encore presentations of ARTISTS OF THE YEAR will air Wednesday, December 3 at 1:30 a.m., 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. ET/PT; and Sunday, December 7 at 2:00 p.m., ET/PT.

Join the conversation on CMT.com/AOTY/ and the official Facebook page, or follow @CMT on Twitter using official hashtag #CMTAOTY.

CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR is executive produced by Michael Dempsey. John Hamlin and Margaret Comeaux serve as executive producers for CMT.

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CMT, a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), is the leading television and digital authority on country music and entertainment, reaching more than 92 million homes in the U.S. CMT, CMT.com and CMT Radio offer an unparalleled mix of music, news, live concerts and series and are the top resource for country music on demand. The network’s digital platforms include the 24-hour music channel, CMT Pure Country, CMT App, CMT Mobile and CMT VOD.

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Cindy Finke 615-335-8404 cindy.finke@cmt.com


2014 CMT Artists of the Year


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