The 2017 CMT Artist of the Year was about showing support, not gaining glory. With all of the devastating events this year, including Harvey, Irma, and the Las Vegas tragedy, country music decided to pay tribute to those affected. They also managed to pay homage to a fellow artist.

2017 CMT Artist of the YearCMT Artist of the Year 2017 (photo from

Standing Together

As they took the stage to open the show, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, and Florida Georgia Line took the stage. 

Jason Aldean began. He was performing on stage when the shooting started. “Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to explain how some of us feel. We have proven time and again in this country that we have the power to overcome anything that threatens our way of life or our freedom.”

He went on to say that they “dedicate this night to you and to everyone who’s experienced loss or tragedy in the past few months.”

Bryan commented, “We hope music can be a part of the healing.” He also expressed how proud he was of Aldean and his response. 

Chris Stapleton had more heartfelt words. “From Las Vegas to Puerto Rico, from Florida and Texas to Charlottesville and California, the entire nation is trying to process these devastating events.” He continued, “But on this night, one that we usually celebrate a year of music, we also want to celebrate a year of incredible human spirit. A spirit that we see in our fans every night.”

Keith Urban added, “In some small way tonight, we want to thank you for your resolve and perhaps lift your spirits. We hope to remind you that everything we go through, we can get through when we stick together.”

But they weren’t done.

I Won’t Back Down

Aldean, Urban, Stapleton, and Little Big Town didn’t just show support for those affected by the tragedies of 2017.

To close the show, they also paid homage to Tom Petty, who passed away on October 2.

Singing his hit song, “I Won’t Back Down,” it was a tribute to a great artist, with the perfect lyrics to rouse the spirit of those for whom they were showing support.

There couldn’t have been a better ending.

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