Brooks & Dunn, Lainey Wilson, Sammy Hagar & More Tribute Toby Keith At 2024 CMT Music Awards

Keith’s family could be seen getting emotional from the audience.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

April 7, 2024


9:45 pm

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Toby Keith Tribute; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT

Country superstars Brooks & Dunn and Lainey Wilson joined forces with legendary rocker Sammy Hagar to deliver an emotionally charged tribute to the late country icon, Toby Keith.

Brooks & Dunn Honor Keith With Cover Of “Should’ve Been A Cowboy”

Following a heartwarming introduction by former MLB player Roger Clemons, Brooks & Dunn took the stage and started a sing-along among the crowd as they delivered an unforgettable cover of Keith’s signature track, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.”

Clips of Keith’s old music videos played on TV screens in the background as the duo belted out the well-known lyrics, which in turn caused members of the audience, including Keith’s daughter Krystal, to get emotional over the sentimental moment.

Brooks & Dunn; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT
Brooks & Dunn; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT

Hagar Puts A Rocking Twist On “I Love This Bar”

Next to take the stage was Hagar, who showed off his red and white “Toby” shirt as he reminisced on his time spent with Keith in his Cabo nightclub over the years before belting out a hard-hitting rendition of Keith’s 2003 release, “I Love This Bar.” The crowd danced along to the upbeat tune that had a rocking twist on it tonight.

Sammy Hagar; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT
Sammy Hagar; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT

Wilson Salutes The Country Icon With His Empowering Song, “How Do You Like Me Now?!”

Singer/songwriters Lukas Nelson and Riley Green briefly took to the stage to introduce Lainey Wilson as the final artist tapped to perform in Keith’s honor. The Louisiana native delivered the nostalgic country anthem, “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” letting her distinguished twang take over the empowering lyrics which were interlaced with epic guitar riffs.

Once Wilson wrapped up her set, the entire group of megastars returned to the stage and made a toast to the late country legend for his impact on the country music genre. From the stage, Clemons gave a shout-out to Keith’s wife, Tricia Lucus, as well as his three kids, Krystal Sandubrae, Shelley Covel and Stelen Covel, and thanked them for sharing their dad and husband with the world for so many years. With tears in his eyes, he then prompted everyone on stage and in the audience to raise their red solo cups to the sky, just as Keith did for many years with his prideful fan-favorite, “Red Solo Cup.”

Lainey Wilson; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT
Lainey Wilson; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT

Toby Keith Passed Away On February 6, 2024

The world learned the tragic news of Toby Keith’s death in the early morning of Tuesday, February 6, just hours after he had passed. He was 62 years old and had been battling stomach cancer for the past two years. 

The beloved singer/songwriter was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021, however, he did not reveal his diagnosis to fans until the summer of 2022. At that point, he announced that all his upcoming concerts would be canceled to allow himself the time to focus on his treatments. 

AUSTIN, TEXAS – APRIL 07: (L-R) Ronnie Dunn, Sammy Hagar, Kix Brooks, Lainey Wilson, Riley Green, Roger Clemens, Lukas Nelson Mica Roberts and Toby Keith band members toast Toby Keith onstage during the 2024 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 07, 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT)

Eventually he slowly found his way back to the stage. Over the past year, was able to showcase his strength by performing to live audiences at events such as the People’s Choice Country Awards, where he also received the Country Icon Award. Then in December, he held a three-night residency in Las Vegas, which marked his final set of performances.

With 32 No.1 singles and 40 million albums sold, the Oklahoma native will always be seen as one of country music’s biggest hitmakers. He wrote a chart-topping hit every year for 20 consecutive years, including “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American),” “I Love This Bar,” “Beer For My Horses,” and “As Good As I Once Was.”

Just a week after his death, Billboard announced that Keith’s 16-year-old hits collection dubbed 35 Biggest Hits had re-entered the Billboard 200 albums chart after selling 66,000 copies in a week. It is now credited as the first posthumous project to land at No. 1 since 2021.

2024 CMT Music Awards

Other performers to take the stage during the 2024 CMT Music Awards include Bailey Zimmerman, Parker McCollum, Dasha, Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Lainey Wilson, Little Big Town + Sugarland, Megan Moroney, NEEDTOBREATHE + Jordan Davis, Old Dominion ft. Megan Moroney, Sam Hunt and Trisha Yearwood. 

The all-star presenter lineup features: Amber Riley, Billy Bob Thornton (Landman), Carly Pearce, Cody Alan, Cody Johnson, Emily Osment (Young Sheldon), Emma Roberts, Gayle King (CBS Mornings), James Van Der Beek, Jane Seymour, Jelly Roll, Max Theriot (Fire Country), Megan Moroney, Melissa Etheridge, Mickey Guyton, Minnie Driver, Montana Jordan (Young Sheldon), Parmalee and Paul Walter Hauser. 

Hosted by Kelsea Ballerini, the 2024 CMT Music Awards will air LIVE from Austin, Texas’ Moody Center on Sunday, April 7th (8:00-11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The show will be available to stream live and on-demand on Paramount+.* 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.