2021 CMT Music Awards: The Best Performances and Most Memorable Moments of the Night!
By Zach Seemayer
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Celebrating country music's best! This year's CMT Music Awards celebrated all the genre's brightest stars on Wednesday, with a fun, joyful ceremony jam-packed with exciting performances.
The star-studded ceremony -- hosted by Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown, who were also big winners and performers -- featured a slew of powerful performances, from Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Mickey Guyton and Luke Bryan, just to name a few.
The show also featured a performance from H.E.R., marking her first-ever country awards show appearance, during which she performed alongside Chris Stapleton for a show-stopping number.
Lady A, Carly Pearce and Lindsay Ell Kick Things Off
To open the show, the country stars teamed up for a high-energy, super fun performance of "Like a Lady," and were joined by Ell, who was fire on her guitar despite her broken foot! The number was originally supposed to include Gabby Barrett, but the singer had to step back from performing due to personal reasons. Ell was tapped to fill in and she made sure to make the most of the high-profile moment.
Miranda Lambert Sings With Jack Ingram and Jon Randall
The trio -- who collaborated on the recent album The Marfa Tapes --performed an acoustic version of Lambert's song, "Tequila Does," in front of a house and moody campfire. Lambert rocked a fringe suede jacket, jeans, a yellow printed blouse and a burgundy wide-brimmed hat as she crooned the hit tune.
The groundbreaking country artist was honored with the CMT Equal Play Award during Wednesday's show, for her role in paving the way for Black artists in the industry. Martell -- who was the first Black woman to ever perform at the Grand Ole Opry -- was presented the award by Mickey Guyton, who paid tribute to Martell's legacy with a powerful retrospective on the indelible mark she left on country music and America.
Carrie Underwood and NEEDTOBREATHE Deliver a Showstopper
One of the musical highlights in the jam-packed evening of entertainment came from Underwood's powerful appearance with NEEDTOBREATHE. The artists took to the stage for a performance of "I Wanna Remember," which is a particularly apt name for the truly memorable number. Special credit should be paid to Underwood for once again slaying the fashion game with her stunning, sparkling ensemble and flawless, unstoppable presence.
Thomas Rhett Is Feeling Country Again
There's so much heart and soul that goes into Rhett's performances, and this rendition of "Country Again" really seemed to hit home. The artist and proud "girl dad" -- who is currently expecting his fourth child with wife Lauren Akins -- made the most of his time on stage and proved why he's one of the most celebrated artists in the genre.
Mickey Guyton and Gladys Knight Ride the 'Friendship Train'
The 37-year-old country singer and the soul and R&B icon teamed up for a powerful and uplifting performance of "The Friendship Train." Guyton -- who stunned in a bedazzled silver fringed gown -- first began the performance singing "Cross Country" with Breland. The two beautifully belted the sweet song, before Knight made her appearance and stole the spotlight for the whole night.
The celebrated artists teamed up for a soulful rendition of H.E.R.'s single "Hold On," which paired the songstress' silky voice with the country star's gravelly vocals for an astounding and moving take on the tune. This also marked H.E.R.'s first-ever performance at a country music awards show, and it was as good a debut as someone could make.
John Legend Wins First CMT Music Award and Carrie Underwood Is Thrilled
The big award of the night, Video of the Year, went to Underwood and Legend for the video to their collaboration, "Hallelujah." Underwood thanked Legend profusely and celebrated their shared victory. "John legend, thank you for sending me this incredible song and agreeing to sing with me on it and making this incredible video that I am so proud of, and congratulations on what I think is your first CMT Award!" Underwood gushed. The win also marks Underwood's ninth time winning Video of the Year and third year in a row.