Maddie & Tae, Runaway June Sing Praises of Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood was honored at the recent CMT Artists of the Year tribute, along with Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini and more. The pregnant superstar shared the stage with her upcoming Cry Pretty Tour 360 opening acts, Maddie & Tae and Runaway June, belting out a medley of hits from the past five decades, including "Stand By Your Man," "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," "9 to 5," "Independence Day" and more.

The preparation for the show's final night was the perfect time for both acts to get to know Underwood better.

"We've been rehearsing for the last three days," Madison Marlow, of Maddie & Tae, told PopCulture.com. "Just being around Carrie Underwood, she's so inspiring and such a great human. She sings her freakin' a— off. It's just crazy being around someone like that ... She's just amazing and we have learned that she's freakin' hilarious. She's like a one liner person where she just gets ya'. I was crying laughing yesterday from her."

"I think that's why I was so nervous," fellow Maddie & Tae singer Taylor Dye added. "'Cause she's so normal and she's so sweet and kind. I'm like, 'Do you know that you're Carrie Underwood? You are freakin' Carrie Underwood.'"

Runaway June were also excited to use the time preparing for the Artists of the Year ceremony to get to know their future tour boss.

"She makes you feel so good and so comfortable," said trio member Jennifer Wayne. "She's so supportive, so instead of feeling nervous, she's like, 'Hey, this is gonna be fun. We're gonna go show them who we are.' She's that kind of a person. She's made us feel very comfortable."

Underwood used her time on stage to encourage the other honorees in the all-female tribute.

"We need more things like this," Underwood said in a passionate speech from stage. "I definitely want to say to all the incredible, amazing, talented women who have been on this stage tonight: You are not here because you are women. You are here because you are dang good and it is an honor to share the night with you."

"It is up to all of us to keep opening those doors," she continued. "I want to see little girls at home seeing us on stage being like, 'I want to do that.' And I want them to know that that's possible."

Other honorees included Maren Morris, Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild, Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott, and Loretta Lynn, who received the Artist of a Lifetime award.

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Photo Credit: Getty images/John Shearer