A pair of country superstars will salute two of 2015’s hottest country acts tonight during the live telecast of the CMT Artists of the Year special. Lee Ann Womack will present seasoned songwriter Chris Stapleton with the Breakout Award. Womack is one of the dozens of artists who have cut songs penned by Stapleton, whose year included a memorable performance with Justin Timberlake during the CMA Awards telecast last month. Stapleton also walked away with three CMA trophies, for New Artist, Male Vocalist and Album of the Year for Traveller. Stapleton and his wife Morgane will perform “Nobody to Blame” from the Number One album.
Martina McBride will present Little Big Town with their first-ever Artist of the Year honor. Among their achievements in 2015, the group broke a long-standing record on the country chart with the mega-hit “Girl Crush.” Paying tribute to them with a one-of-a-kind performance of the song will be pop stars Adam Lambert and Leona Lewis, who first gained public attention as contestants on American Idol and the U.K.’s X Factor, respectively.
Thomas Rhett will honor another of the year’s top acts as the “Die a Happy Man” singer salutes duo Florida Georgia Line, who have claimed Artists of the Year honors three times. The duo’s current LP Anything Goes was released in October and has already earned them a gold record. Their 2015 Anything Goes Tour was one of the year’s hottest across all genres.
Other CMT Artists of the Year will be first-time recipient Blake Shelton, who will be honored with a performance of his “Neon Lights” by Darius Rucker, Cassadee Pope and RaeLynn. Shelton will also present an award to performer Luke Bryan. Sam Hunt, who is set to perform “House Party” during the telecast, will be honored by Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott.
The cast of ABC’s Nashville will be recognized with CMT’s International Impact Award, presented by current CMT reality show star Kellie Pickler. Cast members slated to accept the honor will be Clare Bowen (“Scarlett”), Connie Britton (“Rayna”), Chris Carmack (“Will”), Will Chase (“Luke”), Charles Esten (“Deacon”), Jonathan Jackson (“Avery Barkley”), Sam Palladio (“Gunnar”), Audrey Peeples (“Layla”), Lennon and Maisy Stella (“Maddie Conrad” and “Daphne Conrad”). Kenny Rogers will receive an Artist of a Lifetime trophy from former CBS news anchor Dan Rather.
The CMT Artists of the Year special airs tonight, Wednesday, December 2nd, at 8 p.m. ET.