Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown & More Named 2021 CMT Artists of the Year

Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini and Luke Combs are the other honorees.

Gabby Barrett, Chris Stapleton, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and Luke Combs have been named 2021 CMT artists of the year, the country music network announced on Thursday (Sept. 16).  They will be honored during the live event on Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. CST from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.

The five chosen artists “collectively dominated the last 12 months in country music, leading across all CMT platforms, scoring chart-topping albums and singles, while simultaneously finding creative ways to connect with fans and meet the personal and professional challenges posed by the pandemic,” CMT said in a statement. 

Morgan Wallen is conspicuous by his absence from CMT's list, even though his Dangerous: The Double Album has topped Billboard's Top Country Albums chart for 32 weeks. Wallen has been under a cloud since a tape of him using a racial slur was posted on TMZ in February.

The show is set to return to a more traditional 90-minute format following last year's ceremony, which featured at-home performances and honored American frontline healthcare workers facing the pandemic. Ballerini also performed on last year's show, held in June 2020.

The 2021 live special is executive produced by Margaret Comeaux, vp, production at CMT, and John Hamlin and Amy Lin Johnson of Switched On Entertainment. Jackie Barba and Heather D. Graffagnino are executives in charge of production. Leslie Fram is executive in charge of talent. Shanna Strassberg is talent producer.   

CMT is expected to reveal the night’s performers, presenters, and special guests in the next few weeks.  

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