The never-before-seen collaboration was praised by Stapleton before he accepted the coveted award.
Ahead of the show, Boyz II Men revealed that Stapleton personally requested the group to perform his song after seeing their live show in Las Vegas.
“After the show, we all sat down, and we literally said, ‘if you’re looking for anything, if anything ever comes up, you need some backgrounds, you want us to rock with you, you want to come on stage with us, just let us know,’” Wanya Morris Boyz II Men said.
And then we left it in the wind, you know, put it out in the universe, and when this situation, the honors, awards, came up, he cashed in the chip.
We are men of our words. He said ‘for sure’ and we said, ‘for sure.’”
— CMT (@CMT) October 14, 2021
After accepting the award from Connie Britton, Stapleton gushed over Boyz II Men’s performance before getting emotional dubbing the evening a “really special” one.
“I don’t think that’s Chris Stapleton’s ‘Cold’ anymore, that’s Boy II Men’s ‘Cold’ now. Man, how awesome was that. Hold on a minute, okay, thank you to everybody for this as she mentioned I’ve been on this show a couple of times,” Stapleton said. “This show’s different tonight, first time I’ve been in a room, with a lot of folks again really. We’ve done a lot of these things remotely, but really I feel a lot of love in the room tonight. Lot of love in the room tonight and that’s what music’s about, it’s about love. And I’m so grateful to be in the room with all the people I’m in the room with right now. So inspiring listening to your performances, so inspiring to hear your words and your stories, and I’m humbled to be in the room with some of the folks I’m in the room with tonight.”
Stapleton continued as he began to cry, “I’m grateful to play music, you know, this is meaningful, and I’m so grateful to the fans, I’m so grateful to CMT, so grateful to my wife and the children and all my family whose supported me through all these things, you know. And tonight is special, it’s really special, and I’m so grateful… to get to do this all… I’m losing myself a little bit, thank you, I love you too…”
What a heartfelt speech ❤️
— CMT (@CMT) October 14, 2021
Stapleton reached new heights of success this past year, following the release of his latest album, Starting Over.
The Kentucky native is a 5x Grammy, 10x CMA and 9x ACM Award-winner and has gone on to become one of country music’s most revered artists, songwriters and musicians.
The superstar is currently on the road in the midst of his All-American Road Show tour. Upcoming stops on the run include New York’s Madison Square Garden, two nights at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and Washington State’s Gorge Amphitheatre.
The show honored Randy Travis with the highly-coveted Artist of a Lifetime title, Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs as the 2021 Artists of the Year and Mickey Guyton with the Breakout Artist of the Year honor.
The 90-minute special, which aired on Wednesday, October 13 at 9/8c, also featured performances by Combs, Barrett and more.
Additionally, the ceremony included several star-studded collaborations and tributes including, Brown paying homage to Travis, and Mickey Guyton performing “Remember Her Name” with Yola. Ballerini joined forces with the Jonas Brothers for a cover of a Joe Cocker hit.
Making his award show debut, Walker Hayes closed out the show with a performance of “Fancy Like.”
Eric Church, Lady A, Nelly, Connie Britton, Michael W. Smith, Copeland, Morgan Evans and CMT’s Cody Alan made special appearances as presenters throughout the evening as well.