The 2022 CMT Music Awards kicked off Monday (April 11) night at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium with a “Wild Hearts” performance from Keith Urban and a rain-soaked duet between Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson on “Never Say Never.”
After that, Anthony Mackie hit the stage to announce that even though co-host Kelsea Ballerini was unable to make it to the CMT Awards due to a positive COVID-19 test the day of the show, there was no need to worry.
“Just like the NFL has backup QBs, here at the CMT Awards, we have backup KBs,” said the actor and country music fan, bringing to the stage one KB in place of another — three-time host Kane Brown.
After both gave their love to Ballerini, a few country superstars crashed into the opening monologue to offer their co-hosting services. Both Thomas Rhett and Martina McBride jumped in while Mackie was talking, and both were summarily shot down by Mackie (although Brown seemed pretty keen on McBride or The Judds stepping up on stage).
Trying to move on with the monologue, another person interrupted Mackie – this time remotely, as a massive screen brought Kelsea Ballerini into the Municipal Auditorium straight from her living room. “Are you guys trying to get rid of me already?” she demanded.
When Mackie pointed out she looked pretty dolled-up for a sick person, Ballerini casually replied, “This is my normal Monday night, sitting around in full glam with really good lighting I set up myself in my living room.”
“They’re letting you do this from home?” Mackie replied. “In that case we could have done this from your house.” “You had me backstage with a clipboard for five hours?” Brown asked Mackie incredulously.
This year marks the first time the CMT Awards have aired on CBS. CMT aired the show from 2002-21, naturally, and the cable network will air the CMT Music Awards Extended Cut – which includes an added 30 minutes of new performances and extra bonus material — on Friday, April 15 at 8 p.m. ET.