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CMT ‘Artists of the Year’ Show Taps Luke Combs, Gabby Barrett and Others for Live Return

After taking a break last year from the show’s usual artist-honoring format to put a pre-recorded spotlight on pandemic heroes, “CMT Artists of the Year” will return to both a live broadcast and music celebrities being celebrated in its 2021 incarnation, set for Oct. 13.

The five stars selected by the country music network for 2021 honors are Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and Luke Combs.

Of this year’s class, two — Combs and Brown — are holdovers from 2019, when CMT last presented its “Artists of the Year” in the traditional manner. Ballerini was last feted in 2018, when the entire lineup was devoted to women artists. Stapleton had been part of the bill the year before that. That leaves Barrett, who’s currently up for best new artist at the CMA Awards, as the newcomer of the otherwise young-but-veteran bunch.

As in other years prior to 2020, “Artists of the Year” will go out live in eastern and central time zones from an intimate hall at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The 90-minute show will air at 9 p.m. ET/PT and 8 p.m. CT on Oct. 13.

“We are honored to recognize these five incredible artists who have entertained and inspired millions through their music this past year,” said Margaret Comeaux, CMT’s VP of production, in a statement. “We look forward to returning to the Schermerhorn with a live show as we celebrate the accomplishments of Chris, Kane, Kelsea, Gabby and Luke.”

The show is executive produced by Comeaux, Switched On Entertainment’s John Hamlin and Amy Lin Johnson. Jackie Barba and Heather D. Graffagnino are CMT’s executives in charge of production, Leslie Fram is the exec in charge of talent, and Shanna Strassberg is talent producer.

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