CMT's 2021 Artists of the Year: Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett - Rolling Stone
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Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett Named 2021 CMT Artists of the Year

Luke Combs, Kane Brown, and Kelsea Ballerini round out annual celebration of top-achieving country artists

CMT Artists of the Year Chris StapletonCMT Artists of the Year Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton will be celebrated as one of CMT's 2021 Artists of the Year.

Erika Goldring/Getty Images for CMT

CMT’s Artists of the Year awards show will be back this fall in its usual form after hitting pause in 2020 to recognize pandemic frontline workers in healthcare, military, and education with the “CMT Honors Our Heroes” special. The 2021 CMT Artists of the Year ceremonies, set to air live from Nashville, recognize the successes over the last 365 days of Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, and Luke Combs.

Combs, Brown and Barrett are each set to deliver solo performances, while Stapleton will receive a musical tribute from Boyz II Men with Pentatonix singer Kevin Olusola. Ballerini will join the Jonas Brothers for a remote performance from their current tour, and Yola will pair up with Mickey Guyton — this year’s Breakout Artist honoree — for a collaboration. Walker Hayes is also slated to perform his viral hit “Fancy Like,” a.k.a. the Applebee’s earworm.

A release notes that the five featured artists led CMT’s platforms in the previous 12 months and released chart-topping singles and albums while navigating a music business that suddenly didn’t involve touring.

Stapleton issued his third album Starting Over late in 2020, a project that helped him earn multiple CMA nods this year. Barrett scored her second Number One with “The Good Ones,” while Ballerini put out two distinct versions of her third album. Brown continued his run of huge collaborations by releasing singles with Chris Young and Blackbear, and Luke Combs added to his unbroken string of Number One hits with “Better Together” and “Forever After All,” among others.

Slated for Wednesday, October 13th, the 90-minute program takes place at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center and airs live on CMT.


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