Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood are the 2012 CMT Artists Of The Year, it was announced earlier this evening during the premiere of the 90-minute special hosted by country super group Rascal Flatts and “Nashville” actress Hayden Panettiere. These seven country music superstars were honored by some of the biggest names in entertainment during an exclusive night of wall-to-wall performances and special appearances. 2012 CMT Artists Of The Year is now available on CMT.com and will re-air on Sunday, December 9 at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Tuesday, December 11 at 12:00 a.m. All times are ET/PT.
The evening began with host Hayden Panettiere, joined by her “Nashville” co-stars Connie Britton and Charles Esten, for a special show open straight from their set where she was whisked away by Rascal Flatts to host the show. Rascal Flatts then kicked off the evening’s performances with “Hot in Here,” from their album Changed. The first honoree of the evening was Toby Keith who was presented his trophy by baseball great Roger Clemens and received congratulations from country comedian Rodney Carrington and “Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson. Keith then performed his hit “Beers Ago.” Honoree Miranda Lambert was up next, being presented her trophy by Sheryl Crow with congratulations from Chris Young and country music icon Merle Haggard. Lambert performed her hit “Over You.”
Eric Church received his trophy from friend Kid Rock, along with a video greeting from Metallica’s James Hetfield, before performing “Homeboy.” Honoree Kenny Chesney received his second CMT Artists Of The Year trophy from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Sammy Hagar and a special video message from Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman. Eli Young Band and newcomer Kacey Musgraves, who will both tour with Chesney in 2013, performed his hit “Come Over.” Carrie Underwood, who performed her latest single “Two Black Cadillacs,” received her second CMT Artists Of The Year trophy from husband, Nashville Predators’ Mike Fisher, and congratulations from Hunter Hayes and “Today” show co-host Hoda Kotb.
Kenny Rogers presented honoree Luke Bryan with his trophy while friends Lady Antebellum and Thompson Square congratulated him for the honor. Bryan performed a mash-up of his hit “Drunk on You” and OneRepublic’s “Feel Again” with the band’s frontman, Ryan Tedder. Jason Aldean received his third CMT Artists Of The Year trophy from Atlanta Braves’ great Chipper Jones and was honored by rapper Ludacris and “Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson. Aldean closed the evening with a dynamic performance of his hit, “Take a Little Ride.”