When Thomas Rhett took the stage to accept the CMT Artist of the Year honor, he used his time to pray for Kane Brown. Brown, who was also honored during the ceremony, marked his first public appearance since the unexpected death of his drummer and friend, Kenny Dixon, who was killed in a one-car crash one night after the end of Jason Aldean's Ride All Night Tour, which included Brown as an opening act.
“Thank you so much, CMT, for such an amazing honor," Rhett said, after taking the crystal trophy from his wife, Lauren Akins. "I don’t know about you, but sitting in that seat over there watching the whole night, I was telling Ashley [McBryde], I cried once during her bit. Kane's speech – I don't know if Kane's here anymore, but I just want to lift up Kane and his family, and I want to lift up his drummer, and their family.
"I don’t know if this is very conventional, but can I just pray, really fast? Is that okay with everybody?" Rhett continued before bowing his head. "Father God, we love you so much. Loss is something that we can’t comprehend, and so right now I pray that you would be with Kane and his family and his drummer Kenny and his family, and bring them peace that only you know how to bring somebody. Thank you for this night. God bless country music. We love you, Jesus. And in your name we pray. Amen.”
Rhett's actions drew praise from Reba McEntire, who was given the Artist of a Lifetime honor.
"Thomas Rhett, God bless you for praying in front [of us]," McEntire said from stage. "You’re special. That took guts. But as you said, that might not be aired on this but He knows. It better be aired! It better make the cut. Because that’s what we need in our lives, is a little more God. We’ve got to give this world back to God.
"We’ve got to give Him the focus and the attention that He needs," she continued. "I love this business. I love country music. It’s fun. I love the competition and I love y’all. Thank you very much for this. I love my family, my friends."
Chris Young also paid tribute to Brown, by presenting him with the CMT Artist of the Year trophy, as well as performing his emotional song, "Drowning," inspired by the loss of one of Young's close friends.
Photo Credit: Getty Images for CMT/Viacom