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‘CMT Artists of the Year’ to Forego Trophies in Favor of Vegas, Wildfire and Hurricane Healing

Instead of the official awards presentations, we’ll get “a night of hope… through the power of music”

CMT’s annual “Artists of the Year” celebration will forego formal awards presentations this time around in favor of helping the nation heal from the recent devastating hurricanes, the California wildfires, and the Harvest 91 country musical festival massacre in Las Vegas.

Instead of trophies and speeches, the Viacom cable channel’s special will feature “heartfelt messages from the honorees directly to their fans,” per a Thursday media release. Others in the entertainment community will come together to spread such hope too, CMT said.

The transformed TV presentation will feature honorees Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan. Andra Day and Little Big Town will open the evening with a performance of “Rise Up.” Later, Lee Ann Womack and Common will join them to perform “Stand Up For Something.” Additional performers will be announced soon.

“Given the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, the raging California wildfires and the mass shootings in Las Vegas, we feel a commitment to our fans to address all of the tragedies not in one somber and solemn moment or segment, but rather devote the entire evening to uplifting the fans through high-spirited music,” said Frank Tanki, general manager of CMT and TV Land. “Both ‘Rise Up’ and ‘Stand Up for Something’ are inspirational anthems that perfectly sum the message for the evening. The special has always been a place where artists from different genres can stand side-by-side, and now more than ever, we want to showcase the power of unity and resilience through music.”

The eighth-annual special will air live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Wednesday, October 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.