Presented by Swift’s friend Karlie Kloss, Little Big Town accepted the honor on behalf of Swift, who couldn’t attend the event due to scheduling conflicts.
“We didn’t write this,” Karen Fairchild said onstage. “We’re really grateful that [bandmate] Philip [Sweet] checked his email one night and that song was in his email. We want to say thanks to Taylor Swift. She couldn’t be here tonight with us.”
She continued, “Taylor, wherever you are, thank you for writing this beautiful song, and loving songs and loving Nashville. To the fans, to country radio, thanks for being so good to us.”
Though the “Look What You Made Me Do” singer — whose sixth studio album Reputation is released Friday — wasn’t at the show, the 27-year-old was there in spirit, following along with the live telecast.
“In NYC for SNL rehearsals. LOVE YOU @littlebigtown and CMAs,” Swift tweeted on Wednesday night.
“I think Taylor tweeted that she loves us,” Sweet said in the press room later that night.
His bandmate Kimberly Schlapman couldn’t help but joke: “We’ll take her award and put it on our shelf. She’s got plenty! Maybe she won’t miss it…”
Swift made a surprise appearance at last year’s ceremony to present the Entertainer of the Year Award. She also took time to celebrate pals Little Big Town, who took home the award for vocal group of the year.