It was It was an emotional night for the country music community at the CMT Artists of the Year Awards on October 16.
The night marked Kane Brown's first public appearance since the loss of his close friend and longtime drummer, Kenny Dixon, who died in a car crash on Saturday (October 12). Following a moving performance of "Drowning" by Chris Young, Brown took the stage to accept his award, which he tearfully dedicated to Dixon.
Later in the evening, it was time for Thomas Rhett to be honored. Instead of giving a typical acceptance speech, Rhett decided to use his time on stage to pray for Brown and loved ones of Dixon. This bold leap of faith touched and inspired many people, one of them being the 2019 CMT Artist of a Lifetime honoree, Reba McEntire. She gave her stamp of approval for Rhett's prayer during her speech saying, "Thomas Rhett, God bless you for praying in front [of us]. You're special. That took guts."
After receiving her award, McEntire had a moment of empathy for Brown backstage as she reflected on a loss she went through herself years ago. "It was very special," McEntire says of Browns speech in an interview with Extra. "What he has gone through, I can relate to, definitely."
In 1991, McEntire lost seven of her band members and her tour manager in a plane crash. She says, "When you go through it, you totally understand and you have more heart to give, so I can't wait to hug his neck and say, 'I know what you're going through."
McEntire says the country music community got her through the difficult times. She recalls close friends and fellow country icons, Vince Gill and Dolly Parton being there to get her through the rough patch. "He [Gill] said, 'I'll be there for you, buddy. I will be on that stage with you.' Dolly Parton said, 'You can have my band.'"
"Lots of love from family and friends got me through it," she continued, "and all the rest of the band and crew. There was two band members left over and my crew, they were tough. Some are still with me, so we've been down that long road together."
McEntire called this award show "different than any I have been to before." She says Rhett's prayer during the show was "the neatest and coolest thing in the world."
Watch both Thomas Rhett and Kane Brown's moment on stage during the 2019 CMT Artists of the Year event below.
Photo: Getty Images