The 2022 CMT Awards Deliver Big Despite Bad Weather And Kelsea Ballerini’s Last Minute Covid Diagnosis

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A stormy evening in Nashville set the stage for the 2022 CMT Music Awards last night but country music has never let a little rain ruin its plans.

In fact, superstars Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson risked injury delivering the live television debut of their new single, “Never Say Never” in the pouring rain on Broadway as if it was all a part of the show. The emotional performance continued to set the tone for the night after a powerful opening from Keith Urban performing “Wild Hearts” to fanfare and pyrotechnics as big as the song itself.

Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson – Getty Images

The awards show, which was slated to be co-hosted by Captain America himself, Anthony Mackie and Kelsea Ballerini, took a turn Monday afternoon when a devastated Ballerini tested positive just hours before the ceremony. Good-ole friend, and last year’s co-host, Kane Brown admirably filled in at the last minute to pair with Mackie and Ballerini in leading the ceremony.

Despite the disappointing setback, Ballerini continued to remotely co-host and pulled it off in such a way that it almost seemed planned all along. CMT even brought the pink carpet right to Ballerini’s home.

Kelsea Ballerini’s at-home Pink Carpet – Getty Images

In addition to fulfilling her co-hosting duties and despite her positive test, Kelsea performed her single “Heartfirst” from her own backyard.

The singer took the challenge in stride, playfully updating fans on her social media accounts and making the best of a not-so-great situation.

There were so many electrifying performances throughout the night, including Carly Pearce’s fiery execution of her hit “Diamondback,” and Carrie Underwood’s acrobatic “Ghost Story.”

The performance, which was filmed at the Resorts World Theater, the home of Underwood’s Vegas residency, was inspired by “Reflection.”

Presenters for this year’s awards were quite eclectic. From comedian Joel McHale to actor Taylor Lautner, CMT certainly kept us on our toes.

I do take umbrage however to hearing the introduction to Mrs. Tim McGraw as “Faith Hill, from the TV show 1883” rather than “Introducing Faith Hill, from being Faith Freakin Hill, the woman, the myth, the country legend,” but I digress.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the evening was that of The Judds making their first awards show performance in 20 years. The duo sang an emotional rendition of their 1990 hit song “Love Can Build A Bridge” surrounded by a swelling choir. Aside from the younger generation who didn’t seem to recognize (or appreciate) the iconic pair,  I couldn’t find a dry eye in the house. 

the judds cmt awards performance love can build a bridge
The Judds – CMT Awards – Getty Images

All in all, the energy of the 2022 CMT Awards matched the big stars and big attitudes of country music today, delivering all of the laughs, good spirits and talent that Music City is known for.

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