In a shocking turn of events that has become all too common, the 2022 CMT Music Awards kick off later tonight (April 11) with a new co-host. The event’s long-planned co-host Kelsea Ballerini has tested positive for COVID-19, and will no longer be taking part from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Instead, the night’s leading nominee, Kane Brown, will take her place. And that’s not even the only news to share, with just hours to go before showtime.
To say Brown’s addition comes at the eleventh hour is a massive understatement. For months now fans have known that Ballerini and Avengers actor Anthony Mackie will be guiding the night’s proceedings, and helping the CMTs make their debut on network TV. But with her COVID-19 diagnosis, Ballerini must sit out. Luckily, she says she is symptom free, and will still be able to host and perform from her home.
“I am devastated, I’m gutted,” she says in a social media post. “Luckily, the folks at CMT have brought a little piece of the set to my house, to my little bubble, and set it up so I am still able to host and perform.”
Brown should be able to get up to speed quickly. He and Ballerini co-hosted the 2021 show together, and Brown hosted the 2020 event on his own.
Meanwhile, Gabby Barrett has been added to a performance lineup that is already stacked to the rafters with superstars. She’ll join Carrie Underwood (who will showcase her new Las Vegas residency with a remote performance), Keith Urban, the reunion of ’80s/’90s duo The Judds, and Kenny Chesney’s show-closing grand finale, among others, adding more fire to a night that’s already set to burn hot.
An finally, also announced this morning are the fan-voted show’s final, final nominees — the three finalists who will vie for the night’s top award, Video of the Year.
With online voting open until just before the show starts, those videos are “If I Didn’t Love You” by Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood; “One Mississippi” by Kane Brown; and “‘Til You Can’t” by Cody Johnson.
Making their debut on CBS and streaming on Paramount+, the 2022 CMT Music Awards will air live tonight (April 11) at 8/7c, featuring three hours of musical thrills and awards dedicated to the art of music-video making. For more info and to keep up with the show as it happens, click here.