If this is Austin ...
For the first time ever, the CMT Awards kicked the dust off of Nashville and headed to the Lone Star State! CMT hosted free star-studded events throughout the week in Austin, all leading up to the big show at the Moody Center on Sunday, April 2. Here's everything that went down during the 2023 CMT Music Awards in Austin.
First, pre-show tapings happened all week long. Tyler Hubbard, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Kane Brown, and Katelyn Brown all recorded performances in front of the Capitol building on Congress Avenue. But it was CMT Crossroads that really rocked: Airing on CMT in May, the special features Darius Rucker and The Black Crows singing their most famous hits, including one from Hootie and the Blowfish.
Fans who couldn't make it to the main event could also attend a block party. The two-day, family-friendly event featured free live music, artist meet-and-greets, swag, games, and more. Guests could also take advantage of multiple chances to win tickets to the awards. CBS Austin's Trevor Scott hosted the parties, and both days featured DJ sets from Austinite DJ Cassandra. Performers included Hannah Ellis, Matt Koziol, Danielle Bradbery, and more.
As for the big show, the aqua carpet (red carpets are so last year) was packed with up-and-comers, musicians you've known and loved for years, and so many media outlets. The University of Texas band and cheerleaders even performed. On the outside portion of the carpet, fans could see entrances from big stars like Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, host Kelsea Ballerini and her beau, Outer Banks star Chase Stokes.
Getting things started on the live show, Shelton kicked things off by saying, "If this is Austin, I still love you!" He then performed his newest hit "No Body" against a neon backdrop that highlighted guitars, cowboy hats, and the Austin sign that once stood above the Real World Austin house. It was awesome to see how the Moody Center was transformed for the event with not a bad seat in the house.
Austin's own Gary Clark Jr. paid tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan while Jackie Venson played guitar for Female Video of the Year winner Lainey Wilson. Texans Cody Johnson and Billy Gibbons honored Lynyrd Skynyrd alongside Slash, Paul Rogers, Chuck Leavell, Warren Hayes, Wynonna Judd, and LeAnn Rimes. Other collaborations included Gwen Stefani performing "Just a Girl" with Carly Pearce and Alanis Morissette rocking "You Oughta Know" alongside a group of CMT's Next Women of Country.
The big winner of the night was Jelly Roll, snagging three CMT Awards for Breakthrough Male Video of the Year, CMT Digital-First Performance of the Year and Male Video of the Year. All three awards were for his song "Son of A Sinner" which he performed to a roaring crowd at the event. Upon winning Male Video, the rapper turned country singer got choked up saying, "I'm a little emotional. I started drinking. I didn't think I'd win again."
All in all, the entire week was filled with high energy and good vibes. Here's hoping it keeps going country strong here in Austin in 2024 and beyond!
If you missed the live show, CMT will air CMT MUSIC AWARDS EXTENDED CUT with an added 30 minutes of new performances and extra bonus content on Thursday, April 6, at 7 pm on CMT.