NEW YORK (AP) – Carrie Underwood has another reason to be happy – she broadened her record as the most honored artist in CMT Music Awards history with her song “Hallelujah”.

The singer’s hit music video, a collaboration with John Legend, was named Video of the Year on Wednesday’s show, which aired from Nashville, Tennessee.

Underwood, who now has 23 CMT Awards, thanked her die-hard fans and accepted the honor: “You are the reason we’re all here, what we do, what we love (and) make music videos.”

She also called out Legend, especially for sending her the song that appeared on her first vacation album, “My Gift”.

“Congratulations on what I believe to be your first CMT Award. Whoa! “She exclaimed.

Though Underwood owned part of the night – she also performed with the rock band NEEDTOBREATHE – other female stars, some outside of country music, took over the awards show that honored the best country music videos of the year.

Grammy-winning R&B star HER and fellow guitar slayer Chris Stapleton had the best performance of the night. They teamed up for a smoky, sweeping performance of “Hold On” that comes off like a veteran duo.

The legendary Gladys Knight won over viewers – who were not wearing masks – during a performance of “Friendship Train” with Mickey Guyton. Part of the show felt like it was nominated for two awards and given the CMT Equal Play Award to Linda Martell, one of the pioneering black acts in country music, thanks to the top-notch performances by Knight, HER and Guyton, who was dedicated to black female voices and the first black woman to perform solo in the Grand Ole Opry.

Martell had a country hit with the song “Color Me Country” 50 years ago, and she had other songs in the charts, but she was in big trouble. She experienced racism on stage and was shunned as a mainstream country by the music industry. Her record company stopped her album and she was forbidden from finding a new deal.

“Hearing Linda’s sing makes it very clear that she had all the talent of being a big star, but her career was cut short for one reason: the color of her skin,” said Guyton, who became the first solo black woman to make history that year nominated for a Country Grammy Award.

“Without you I wouldn’t be here today and none of us would be here without you, so thank you!”

Martell, 86, didn’t attend the awards show, but CMT aired photos of the icon holding her award and said she was watching the show from her South Carolina home.

Guyton also took to the stage with BRELAND, the black singer who mixed country, trap and R&B music and who had a country hit with the platinum hit “My Truck”.

And there were more collaborative performances like this during the night.

Lady A opened the show with Carly Pearce and Lindsay Ell, Ingrid Andress sang with pop-singer-songwriter JP Saxe, while Miranda Lambert performed with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall.

Hosts Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini also appeared on stage and won awards.

Brown won the Male Video of the Year for “Worship You” and the Joint Video of the Year for “Famous Friends” with Chris Young. The CMT performance of the year went to Ballerini and Halsey’s “The Other Girl” from the 2020 CMT Music Awards.

Gabby Barrett, who was originally supposed to appear on the show but retired, won Female Video of the Year and Best Family Film Award went to Taylor Swift’s “The Best Day (Taylor’s Version”), which was re-released earlier this year and featured home films with the pop star, her brother and her parents.

Little Big Town’s “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” won first prize of the evening – Duo / Group Video of the Year.

“This is fantastic. First of all, we’re back and making music people,” shouted Kimberly Schlapman, referring to the pandemic.

“I know you enjoy drinking songs,” added Karen Fairchild.

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