Luke Combs Has Full-Circle Moment with Randy Travis While Accepting 2021 CMT Artists of the Year Honor

Country superstar Luke Combs was honored as one of five CMT Artists of the Year on Wednesday evening during the…


Lauren Jo Black

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October 13, 2021


8:51 pm

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Luke Combs; Photo by Getty Images for CMT

Country superstar Luke Combs was honored as one of five CMT Artists of the Year on Wednesday evening during the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year special.

His friend and fellow North Carolina native, Eric Church, presented him with the honor remotely from his Gather Again Tour.

“We come from the same place, breathe the same air, walk across the same dirt, played the same places. At the core of his success, is a love for authentic music,” Church gushed. 

He went on to compliment Combs’ “incredible songwriting and storytelling.”

Above all, Church praised Combs as a person and acknowledged that even though he’s a “certified superstar,” he hasn’t changed “one bit.” 

“I’m proud to call him my friend,” Church shared. 

Combs took the stage to accept the incredible honor. He thanked his fans, his team and his wife, Nicole, who wasn’t able to join him at the show. 

He then gave a shoutout to his friend, musical hero and fellow North Carolina native, Randy Travis, who is set to receive the Artist of a Lifetime honor later in the show. 

“Randy, I watched you play in this building a few years ago with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and was absolutely blown away,” Combs told him from the stage. “And to be in the same room with you again in the same place and to just have a small fraction of an impact on country music like you’ve had man, it’s incredible.”

He also gave a shoutout to fellow Artist Of The Year nominee, Chris Stapleton, who watched from the front row. Concluding his speech, he thanked his wife, fans and everyone in the room.

“I really don’t feel like I deserve this, this is for the fans, this is for country music, this is for country music, I love you guys, thank you for letting me do what I do,” Combs said. 

Luke Combs; Photo by Getty Images for CMT
Luke Combs; Photo by Getty Images for CMT

With 11 consecutive No.1s under his belt, Combs has catapulted to the top of his game and continues reign as one of country music’s most respected artists. 

2021 CMT Artists of the Year special aired live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

The show honored Randy Travis with the highly-coveted Artist of a Lifetime title, Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, and 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 Boyz II Men with Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix honoring Stapleton, 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.

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.