WATCH: Kelsea Ballerini Makes Surprise Appearance At Carrie Underwood Concert With Big Announcement

Carrie Underwood

Kelsea Ballerini surprised Carrie Underwood with a bedazzled belt buckle during her sold-out The Denim & Rhinestones Tour stop at Austin Texas’ Moody Center on Wednesday evening (Nov. 2).

The special CMT Music Awards belt buckle recognizes her as the winningest artist in CMT history, with a total of 25 trophies.

“Do you guys know that out of the history of the CMT Awards, this queen has the highest number of CMT Awards ever? It’s 25 to be exact,” Ballerini shared as she presented Underwood with the honor. “So we have a Denim & Rhinestone Champion belt for you!”

While on stage, Ballerini announced more exciting news. She revealed that the CMT Music Awards are heading to Austin, Texas in 2023.

The “Heartfirst” singer shared the news on behalf of CMT and CBS and announced that the 2023 CMT Music Awards will take place on Sunday, April 2 at Austin Texas’ Moody Center for the first time ever.

Ballerini, who will return as a co-host for the third time, also revealed Underwood as the first performer for the 2023 show.

Ahead of the announcement, Ballerini teased that she was going “Southbound.” She also shared a photo of a pair of cowboy boots before taking the stage with Underwood.

“Both Austin and Nashville are two of the world’s greatest music cities and we couldn’t be more excited to announce the return of the CMT MUSIC AWARDS on CBS than with co-host Kelsea Ballerini surprising Carrie Underwood, our most awarded artist, in the middle of her incredible live performance at Moody Center – the exact venue where we’ll all be back exactly five months from today!” shared Margaret Comeaux, John Hamlin, Leslie Fram and Jason Owen, Executive Producers, CMT MUSIC AWARDS. “Our fans are in for an unforgettable night of music with plenty of surprises, as the Live Music Capital meets Music City for the first time ever on a national stage in what will be a true country music extravaganza.”


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“The programming team at Oak View Group and Moody Center has spent the past two years cultivating this relationship and working to endear CMT, CBS and Paramount to Austin and our new, world-class arena. CMT’s commitment to Austin reflects those efforts and we couldn’t be more grateful and excited to host them next year,” says Michael Owens, Vice President of Programming, Moody Center.

“We are beyond thrilled to welcome the CMT Music Awards to Moody Center in 2023! This event will have not only a huge financial impact on Austin and its tourism industry, but it will also showcase two of the top music brands globally, Austin as The Live Music Capital of the World and Country Music Television,” says Tom Noonan, President & CEO, Austin CVB.

The CMT Music Awards aired on CBS for the first time ever earlier this year. The inaugural broadcast delivered 5.89 million viewers, a 529% increase from June 2021. The show also dominated on social with 2.7 billion impressions across platforms, according to a press release.

The fan-voted awards show will air Sunday, April 2, 2023 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT). The 2023 CMT Music Awards will premiere exclusively via the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.*