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Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett have been selected by CMT as the premiere country artists of 2016 and will be celebrated at the seventh annual CMT Artists of the Year special, it was announced Tuesday (Sept. 13).
Additionally, Kelsea Ballerini is set to receive the second-annual Breakout Artist of the Year honor.
The 2016 CMT Artists of the Year special premieres from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Each artist will be honored with never-before-seen performances alongside lighthearted and emotional moments fueled by plenty of champagne during the 90-minute special on CMT.
Following last year’s nod as breakthrough artist, Chris Stapleton joins first-time recipient Thomas Rhett and veteran CMT Artists of the Year Carrie Underwood (2010, 2012, 2016), Florida Georgia Line (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and Luke Bryan, who now ties with Jason Aldean as the artists with most wins with five consecutive years (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016).
This year’s five honorees collectively dominated the last 12 months in country music, ruling CMT’s platforms and country radio, scoring chart-topping album and singles and selling out concerts across the nation.
On the heels of her mega-hit debut album, The First Time, and before her first-ever headlining tour, CMT’s Next Women of Country member Kelsea Ballerini has taken the country world by storm. With her third No. 1 hit “Peter Pan,” she is the only female artist in country music history, including female duos and groups, to reach No. 1 with her first three consecutive singles from a debut album.
Additional awards, performers and special guests will be announced at a later date.
Former CMT Artists of the Year honorees include Jason Aldean (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014), Kenny Chesney (2011, 2012), Eric Church (2012), Hunter Hayes (2013), Toby Keith (2012), Lady Antebellum (2010, 2011), Little Big Town (2015), Miranda Lambert (2012, 2014), Tim McGraw (2013), Brad Paisley (2011), Blake Shelton (2015), Taylor Swift (2010, 2011), Keith Urban (2014), Sam Hunt (2015) and the Zac Brown Band (2010).
Previous CMT Artists of the Year performances have included Adele and Darius Rucker performing Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Adam Lambert and Leona Lewis paying tribute to Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and Maroon 5 covering Taylor Swift’s “Mine.”