Carly Pearce; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT

Carly Pearce Performs “29” & Accepts CMT Artists Of The Year Award: “Divorce Has Never Looked So Good”

After experiencing a year of heartbreak due to her highly publicized divorce, Carly Pearce has enjoyed the best year of her life and career throughout the past 12 months. CMT recognized her ongoing successes and chose to honor her as one of the 2022 CMT Artists of the Year.

Pearce was one of five honorees who were celebrated during the 90-minute CMT special, which featured performances and special moments throughout.

The reigning ACM and CMA Female Artist/Vocalist Of The Year was introduced by her former tour mate, Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, and took to the stage to perform the emotional “29” from her critically acclaimed project, 29: Written In Stone.

Sporting a floor-length red sequin gown, Pearce delivered a stunning performance of the ballad inspired by the events that occurred while she was 29.

“For me,” she said, “that was the song that changed everything. It was the first song I wrote with [songwriters] Shane [McAnally] and Josh [Osborne]. I went there, and they went there with me, and it changed my whole life,” Pearce shared with People ahead of the show.

During her acceptance speech, the Kentucky native reflected on how far she’s come in her career and life.

“Oh my goodness, I have thought long and hard about what to say…and I think about CMT and I think about 10 years ago crying on Leslie Fram’s couch, in CMT, wondering if I was ever going to get a break and fast-forward to just everything that has happened in my life in the last few years,” Pearce shared.

She went on to explain how her 29 album was born after experiencing pain and shared her hope to inspire others.

“I wrote this album, not to chase anything except to survive and when I think about just everything that has happened in my life, I want anybody who is struggling to know that you can get through and you can overcome anything because I did,” she said. “I was at the bottom, and I got up, and I, and I chose to get through this situation.

After thanking her team for their unwavering support, Pearce turned her attention to the fans who have helped her dreams come true. She closed her speech with a powerful statement.

“As a little girl, you think about the things you want in your life and this right here is what I wanted. So thank you CMT, thank you country music fans, thank you country music industry. I have to say… Divorce has never looked so good!”

The 2022 CMT Artists Of The Year celebrated the success Carly Pearce, Kane Brown, Cody Johnson, Luke Combs and Walker Hayes have seen throughout the past year.

Alan Jackson was honored as the CMT Artist Of A Lifetime. The prestigious honor, presented by Ram Trucks, was previously awarded to Randy Travis (2021), Reba McEntire (2019), Loretta Lynn (2018), Shania Twain (2016), Kenny Rogers (2015) and Merle Haggard (2014).

Lainey Wilson was named the 2022 CMT Breakout Artist Of The Year. Wilson is the fifth recipient of the award, following Mickey Guyton (2021), Ashley McBryde (2019), Kelsea Ballerini (2016), and Chris Stapleton (2015).

The 90-minute concert event featured performances from Jackson, Pearce, Johnson, Brown and Wilson. Hayes joined forces with Ciara for a never-before-seen performance of their “Y’all Life” remix. Riley Green also took the stage to honor Luke Combs.

A heartwarming tribute to the late Loretta Lynn, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 90, also took place during the star-studded event when her sisters, Crystal Gayle and Peggy Sue Wright, performed in her honor.

In addition to a star-studded list of performances, the show also included presenters: Chris Stapleton, Dan + Shay, Dustin Lynch, Rascal Flatts’ frontman Gary LeVox, Kelsea Ballerini, Yellowstone’s Kelsey Asbille, and Shane McAnally.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared remotely from his annual Dale Jr. Foundation charity event in North Carolina to present Combs with his 2022 CMT Artists Of The Year award.

The 2022 CMT Artists Of The Year premiered on Friday, October 14 at 9/8c on CMT.

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