A Look Back At The History Of The CMT Music Awards

Who among us hasn’t been both embarrassed and enthralled when our parents pull out the old photo album and start walking us through the pictures of our past? Things aren’t much different when we start paging through the moments that made up country music history. Some are legendary moments in the making while others are disasters just waiting to unfold, but they are all a part of where we came from. Join me, WhiskeyChick, as I take a look today through the story of the CMT Music Awards!

While the award show has had its roots in Nashville since 1967, first as the Music City News Awards, then later as the The Nashville Network’s Viewer’s Choice Awards, then finally as the CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards the ceremony is now known as simply the CMT Music Awards. These awards separate themselves from other established awards shows by putting the main focus on fan voting and on in-show performances with the actual presentation of trophies taking a back seat. Over the years those performances have been nothing short of amazing, so let’s take a look at a few:

When CMT took over the award show they were trying to cross over the mainstream audience from their sister station MTV and this is obvious in the focus they put on flashy pop-styled performances. This of course turned a lot of the more traditional fans away from the show all together but cemented the CMT Awards as an influence in the younger markets.
Shania Twain – 2002 CMT Music Awards – “I’m Gonna Get You Good”

Brooks & Dunn feat. ZZ Top – 2002 CMT Music Awards – “Only In America”

As the awards grew up alongside technology, the balance between pop and flash and classic country crooning started to settle into more epic showcases of modern talent.
Keith Urban – 2004 CMT Music Awards – Opening the show with “Who Wouldn’t Want To Me”

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Rascal Flatts – 2004 CMT Music Awards – “I Melt”

Eventually the channel realized they had an opportunity with this younger audience to have a lot more fun than those other stuffed-shirt formal affairs and started showing their softer side with comedic hosts like Jeff Foxworthy to kick things off.
2005 CMT Music Awards opener

But don’t let all that fun and funny fool you… they’re still all about the performance here!
Carrie Underwood – 2006 CMT Music Awards – “Before He Cheats”

Of course some of those moments are ones the country bloggers tend to sweep under the rug, but can we all take a moment and admit that this pairing got all us parents misty-eyed JUST long enough to forget about Billy Ray’s achey breaky heart after watching his baby girl swinging on a wrecking ball?
Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus – 2008 CMT Music Awards – “Ready, Set, Don’t Go”

Of course, who can forget the moment another teenage sweetheart took over country radio in a way nobody saw coming!
Taylor Swift – 2009 CMT Music Awards – “You Belong With Me”

From that point on the award show continued working on that balance between fun, funny, fabulous, and first-timers. Here’s a few more shots from the past.
2013 CMT Music Awards Opener

Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood – 2014 CMT Music Awards – “Somethin Bad”

Little Big Town – 2014 CMT Music Awards – “Day Drinkin”

Kenny Chesney – 2015 CMT Music Awards – “American Kids

Thomas Rhett – 2016 CMT Music Awards – “T-Shit”

Florida Georgia Line – 2016 CMT Music Awards – “H.O.L.Y.”

About Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena

Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena is a freelance writer for both Country Music News and Country Music On Tour. Want to collab on some content? Email me. Want my rates for commercial promo work outside of music? Get them right here.