Tim McGraw ended Carrie Underwood’s four-year-winning streak for the top prize at the 2016 CMT Music Awards with his music video for Humble and Kind — which features footage provided by Oprah Winfrey — while stars from outside the country music world performed onstage, including Pharrell, Cheap Trick and Pitbull.
McGraw thanked Winfrey, Tyler Perry, video director Wes Edwards and others onstage on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
“When we make a footprint as an artist, there’s a lot of people involved in making that footprint. And we do it because we hope to move you, we hope that we make a little bit of an impact in your life, and you care a little bit about what we do,” McGraw said onstage. “Thank y’all for caring a little bit about what we do, because we care a whole lot about y’all.”
Humble and Kind was inspired by McGraw’s daughter’s leaving for college, and the touching video features people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. It includes footage from the OWN TV series, Belief.
At the fan-voted show, he beat Underwood, who has won video of the year consecutively since 2012 and also won the honour in 2010 and 2007.
Underwood still walked away as the night’s big winner with two awards: She took home female video of the year and CMT performance of the year.
The singer also performed while others brought pop, rock and rap stars to help onstage.
Pharrell joined Little Big Town for a fun and funky performance that featured a number of background dancers. The hit-making Happy performer produced Little Big Town’s eight-song album, Wanderlust, to be released Friday.
Little Big Town won group/duo video of the year for their Grammy-winning smash, Girl Crush. It was their first-ever CMT win.
“This is a real surprise,” Kimberly Schlapman said onstage, standing next to Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet.
Recent Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick performed with Billy Ray Cyrus outdoors; Pitbull hit the stage with singers Cassadee Pope and Leona Lewis; Grammy-nominated pop-rock singer Elle King sang with Dierks Bentley; and girl group Fifth Harmony sang their pop hit Work from Home alongside breakthrough singer Cam.
The country world has recently been welcoming of pop stars, and not just onstage: On her popular album Lemonade, Beyonci performs a country original called Daddy Lessons, which the Dixie Chicks covered in concert and others in the genre praised. And last year, Justin Timberlake was the highlight of the Country Music Association Awards when he performed alongside Chris Stapleton. Timberlake’s song Drink You Away hit the country charts after the performance.
Other performers on Wednesday included some of the country genre’s biggest acts: Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and Keith Urban.
Thomas Rhett, who also performed, beat out Bryan, Shelton, Urban, Eric Church and Sam Hunt for male video of the year.
“This is incredible. I got to thank the Lord first and foremost for giving me a lovely wife named Lauren,” Rhett said of his wife, who appeared in the music video for Die a Happy Man.
Shelton didn’t walk away empty-handed though: The Voice coach took home the prize for CMT social superstar of the year and joked about drunken tweeting.
“CMT’s social superstar? That’s not what I was going for, but what the [expletive]? I mean I like to have a few drinks and get on Twitter every now and then. But I didn’t know you could get paid for that,” he said. “See kids, there’s something for y’all to strive for.”
Stapleton, who won a pair of Grammys earlier this year and launched to superstar status after his performance with Timberlake, won breakthrough video of the year for Fire Away.
“It means so much. All the fans, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and my family,” the singer and songwriter behind hits for George Strait and Kenny Chesney said onstage.
Erin Andrews and J.J. Watt hosted the two-and-half-hour show, which aired live on CMT.