It’s country’s biggest night! The 2021 CMT Artists of the Year awards are taking over Music City on Wednesday, October 13.
The celebration will take place live in Nashville to honor both up-and-coming artists and some of the genre’s biggest names. Last year, the event shifted its focus to instead pay tribute to frontline workers with at-home performances amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the 2021 edition will be an in-person affair.
Country music legend Randy Travis is set to receive the highly coveted Artist of a Lifetime award. The 62-year-old North Carolina native got his big break in the 1980s with his debut record, Storms of Life, which sold more than four million copies. In 2013, however, the seven-time Grammy winner suffered a major stroke that severely impacted his speech and singing voice.
His wife, Mary Travis, opened up about the Touched by an Angel alum’s prestigious honor, telling CMT, “Randy never takes any of his accolades for granted.”
Mary continued, “When we found out he had been awarded the Artist of a Lifetime, we were traveling through the French countryside on the way to our goddaughter’s wedding in Italy. I was driving and Randy got quiet. Then I looked over at him, and his eyes had welled up [with tears]. Being an Artist of a Lifetime means that you’re not just a great artist for a season or an album. Instead, your music has made a difference throughout your entire career — in Randy’s case, 35 years.”
While Randy’s star power is undeniable, some of the CMT honorees are newer on the scene, including Breakout Artist of the Year winner Mickey Guyton. The 37-year-old singer released her first studio single six years before her breakout LP, Remember Her Name, dropped in September.
“When you’ve been told no for so long, you eventually start to believe it. And I started to believe that I didn’t deserve it,” the Grammy nominee told The New York Times of her long path to success. “But you know, I’ve been in this town for a long time and I’m just as talented as everybody else. So I receive it and I accept it.”
Guyton’s 2020 single “Black Like Me” put her on the map — but it wasn’t easy getting there.
“I did Nashville the Nashville way for so long, and I had seen so many women do Nashville the Nashville way, with very little results, and that’s kind of how I felt within my own life as being a Black woman,” she told NPR last year. “I was having to face that and feel that, and go through studio sessions or makeup sessions having all these people around me that don’t look like me telling me how to do my hair and my makeup. … It had to be all of those moments for me to get to a breaking point where I needed a song about it.”
Keep scrolling to learn more about the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year event, including how to watch and who’s being honored: