WATCH: Kane Brown Makes Randy Travis Proud with ‘Three Wooden Crosses’ Performance at 2021 CMT Artists of the Year

Kane Brown, Randy Travis; Photos by Getty Images for CMT
Kane Brown, Randy Travis; Photos by Getty Images for CMT

Country hitmaker Kane Brown has idolized Country Music Hall of Famer Randy Travis all of his life and that has come full circle as he went from being his hero to becoming his friend.

As the country icon looked on from the front row of Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Brown paid tribute to CMT’s Artist Of A Lifetime with a stunning performance of Travis’ iconic hit “Three Wooden Crosses” on Wednesday (Oct. 13) during CMT’s Artist Of The Year ceremony.

“I’ve done it before by surprise, It was the first time I met him, he came up behind me at a radio station while I was singing it,” Brown said ahead of his tribute performance. “And then I couldn’t finish the song afterwards, so I guess this is a chance to redeem myself.”

When speaking to CMT of Travis’ Artist Of a Lifetime honor, he says, “I would just say it’s his storytelling, and it’s how many people can resonate with him and I love what he’s doing right now with all the newer artists. I see him everywhere, I mean, he’s even on TikTok with new artists and just encouraging them, and you just want to see those types of people succeed, and he’s just way ahead of that. I think he’s just an amazing person all around.”

“Three Wooden Crosses” is a song written by Kim Williams and Doug Johnson, and recorded by Randy Travis. It was released in November 2002 from his album, Rise and Shine. The song became Travis’ 16th No. 1 single.

Randy Travis & Wife Mary; Photo Courtesy Getty Images for CMT
Randy Travis & Wife Mary; Photo Courtesy Getty Images for CMT

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

The show also honored Randy Travis with the highly-coveted Artist of a Lifetime title, Brown, Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, 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.

Kane Brown; Photo Courtesy Getty Images for CMT
Kane Brown; Photo Courtesy Getty Images for CMT

Additionally, the ceremony included several star-studded collaborations and tributes, including Boyz II Men with Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix honoring Stapleton 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.