Kelsea Ballerini honours shooting victims at CMT Music Awards
Host Kelsea Ballerini speaks at the CMT Music Awards on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press
Published Sunday, April 2, 2023 10:04PM EDT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The CMT Music Awards opened Sunday with a tribute to victims from a school shooting, as co-host and country star Kelsea Ballerini shared her own experience as a witness to another school shooting at her high school.
Country stars walked the red carpet ahead of the awards show, held this year in Austin, Texas, wearing black ribbons in honor of the six victims - three adults and three nine-year-olds - who were killed Monday at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ballerini described a 2008 shooting at a school in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee before dedicating Sunday's show to the “ever-growing list of families, friends, survivors, witnesses and responders whose lives continue to be forever changed by gun violence.”
Country singer Blake Shelton then kicked off the awards show with a Texas dance hall version of his song “No Body.”
This year's CMT Music Awards will merge country, rock and blues straight from the heart of Texas, featuring performances including collaborations with Alanis Morissette, The Black Crowes, Gwen Stefani and Gary Clark Jr. and tributes to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The annual fan-voted awards show also will honor country superstar and five-time Grammy winner Shania Twain with the Equal Play Award, recognizing her for being a “visible and vocal advocate” for diverse voices in country music.
Fan-favorite and scheduled performer Lainey Wilson leads the nominations with four chances to win.
Carrie Underwood has a chance to extend her record as the most awarded artist in CMT history with 25 awards. Underwood, who also will perform, was nominated again for video of the year for “Hate My Heart.”
Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd will be honored with a tribute performance following the death in March of the last original member, Gary Rossington. ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Slash of Guns N' Roses and the Allman Brothers' Warren Haynes and Chuck Leavell are set to perform with singers Paul Rodgers and Cody Johnson with backup vocals from LeAnn Rimes and Judd.
Four-time Grammy winner Clark Jr. will perform a tribute to the late Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn.