"Maddie and Tae and Runaway June are a pleasure to be around and so talented, so professional. I love listening to them every night. They get me fired up to go on stage," she says. "I definitely have favorite parts [of the show] but all for different reasons, like interacting with different band members at different times. I love when we do 'The Champion' because I get to encourage somebody else when they're on stage and I see somebody who has never done anything like that before get up on stage and conquer a fear and the crowd's going crazy."
She adds, "The women's medley is such a fun moment in the show not only because I get to sing with the other ladies, but we get to honor people that we genuinely admire. It just makes me sad I couldn't make that an hour medley. It was really hard whittling it down to a few songs."
Ashley McBryde took home her first CMT Music Award for breakthrough video of the year for her poignant single"Girl Goin' Nowhere." Still in shock about the win, she says she grabbed Luke Combs' drink on her way to the stage and accidently spilled it on herself while trying to hug Hunter Hayes.
"This is incredible. This is a fan voted thing and that feels awesome," she says. "'Girl Goin' Nowhere' didn't do on radio what we wanted it to do. So, to be recognized in any way for 'Girl Goin' Nowhere' is full circle for us and for the song."
McBryde's year continues to be a stacked one as she recently finished recording her sophomore album and has plans to be direct support for a major tour coming up. While she couldn't reveal much more about the tour, she promises it'll be a fun one. "We're really, really excited to be direct support for the entire time. We love headlining. We love supporting, but this is going to be a really, really special thing," she hints.
Kane Brown appeared backstage with his wife, and while discussing his male video of the year win for "Lose It" and his rising career he says, "I'm excited to be where I'm at and I'm taking it all in a day at a time."
The soon-to-be father says while his writing hasn't changed since learning his wife, Katelyn Jae, is expecting, he's sure his future child will have an impact on his music. "It's going to open more doors for us, writing-wise. We're just going to go wherever the road takes us."
Dan + Shay took home the trophy for duo video of the year for "Speechless," a love song they penned for their wives with Laura Veltz and Jordan Reynolds. The duo are gearing up to spend part of the year in Australia as a support act for pop singer Shawn Mendes. So do they have any co-writes on the books with Mendes?
"I'm sure that that will happen," Shay Mooney tells Billboard backstage. "It's really fun when you tour with people, it's good to get to know them first. We've gotten to hang with Shawn quite a bit and to be able to write with him is awesome."
Adds bandmate Dan Smyers, "We've gotten the opportunity to work with some amazing people. We still love everybody in Nashville, we still love Music Row. We feel like the best songs in the entire world are written here in Nashville and there's just a craft. You go anywhere in the world and ask where the best songs are written [and] there's so much respect for this town. We're proud to be a part of this community."