Chris Stapleton to Perform at the 2020 CMA Awards, and Charles Kelley Will Sub for Lee Brice

Chris Stapleton
Mickey Bernal

Chris Stapleton performs onstage during the 53rd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kelley was already booked to appear on the show as part of Lady A.

Chris Stapleton has been added to the performance lineup for the 54th Annual CMA Awards, which are set for Wednesday (Nov. 11). Stapleton will perform his current single “Starting Over,” which has climbed as high as No. 10 on Hot Country Songs. Stapleton is nominated for male vocalist of the year for the sixth year in a row, and also for music video of the year for “Second One to Know.”

It was on the CMA Awards broadcast five years ago that Stapleton became a household name, when he performed “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink You Away” with Justin Timberlake. That performance, and the three awards Stapleton won that night, enabled Stapleton’s Traveller album to re-enter the following week’s Billboard 200 chart at No. 1. It’s the only time in CMA history that a performance has catapulted an album to the top of the Billboard 200.

In addition, Charles Kelley has been named to replace Lee Brice in a performance of “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” a collab with Carly Pearce. Brice tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday (Nov. 8) and will not be attending this year's show. A CMA spokesperson told the AP that Brice was tested and received his results before arriving onsite for any CMA rehearsals or events.

Brice and Pearce are nominated for their duet "I Hope You’re Happy Now" in the musical event of the year and music video of the year categories. The song is also nominated for song of the year.

Kelley was already booked to appear on the show as part of Lady A, which is teaming with Darius Rucker, the show’s co-host, to sing Rucker’s current single, “Beers and Sunshine.”

On Monday (Nov. 9), the CMA released a statement: "As you may have heard, unfortunately Lee Brice and Tyler Hubbard both tested positive for COVID-19 and are unable to join us for the CMA Awards on Wednesday night. Although this is incredibly disappointing, not only for the show but also for CMA personally as we care deeply for these artists and only want the best for them and their families, it does reassure us that our protocols are working.

"Our process enabled us to manage each situation immediately and before either artist ever entered our set.  Most importantly, it prevented anyone else from being exposed.  We have been extremely diligent with our testing process in advance of anyone entering our footprint.  Every single person has been tested, and many will be tested repeatedly throughout the week.  This is in addition to wearing PPE and of course practicing social and physical distancing.

"We have an incredible show planned and look forward to bringing the country music community together. However, our number one priority has been and will continue to be the safety of our artists, our crew and our staff.  That will never be compromised."

Country stars Lauren Alaina, Sara Evans, Jake Owen and Charles Esten are booked as presenters, along with gospel artist CeCe Winans, author Lauren Akins, radio and TV personality Bobby Bones, supermodel Taylor Hill and actor Patrick Schwarzenegger.

Hosted by Reba McEntire and Rucker, the CMA Awards airs live from Nashville’s Music City Center Wednesday (Nov. 11) from 8 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET on ABC.

The 54th Annual CMA Awards is a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton is the executive producer,  Alan Carter is the director and David Wild is the head writer.

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