Brothers Osborne brought a heartfelt moment to the CMA Awards stage with a performance of “Younger Me.”
Leading into the reflective track inspired by T.J. Osborne’s coming-out story, the singer offered a moving reflection about growing up gay as a fan of country music. “For years I watched this show and only dreamed of being up on this stage. I always truthfully felt that it would never be possible because of my sexuality. I just wish my younger me could see me now,” he shared in one of the night’s most humbling moments.
It was the perfect setup to the performance of “Younger Me,” that found T.J. seated on a stool donning a sparkling denim outfit on the dark stage with brother John Osborne standing by his side on guitar. The duo delivered a poignant performance wherein one could feel the passion and belief in the message they were sharing as they professed, “Younger me / You got me where I am today / Got a few things right along the way / You’ll see, just wait / Younger me.”
The crowd of country music peers showed their support with a standing ovation, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard among those who rose to their feet in admiration. Earlier in the night, Brothers Osborne was awarded their fourth win for Vocal Duo of the Year.
The performance was especially meaningful for Brothers Osborne as it marked their first CMA appearance since frontman TJ Osborne came out as a gay man in a powerful Time magazine expose in February of 2021.
The announcement made TJ the first major-label artist in country history to come out, and was met with a massive wave of support from fellow country stars and the industry as a whole, as well as appreciation from fans and LGBTQ+ groups. The duo went on to headline the We’re Not for Everyone Tour.
At the time, TJ noted that awards shows like the CMAs are exactly the kind of public place where. as a country singer, he would not have felt comfortable being himself in the past. “People will ask, ‘Why does this even need to be talked about?’ and personally, I agree with that,” Osborne said in the Time piece. “But for me to show up at an awards show with a man would be jaw-dropping to people. It wouldn’t be like, ‘Oh, cool!”
Back in their usual format after the pandemic-impacted 2020 show, the 55th Annual CMA Awards aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on November 10. The night featured dozens of performances and awards presentation for a glitzy ceremony dubbed “Country’s Biggest Night,” and was hosted by superstar Luke Bryan for the first time. You can check out Sounds Like Nashville’s full coverage here.