Blanco Brown spent nearly an entire month in the hospital last year after being involved in a head-on motorcycle accident in Atlanta

Blanco Brown is feeling grateful to be back onstage.

On Sunday, the 36-year-old country star made his first public appearance since the serious motorcycle accident that nearly killed him last year, walking the carpet at the 2021 ACM Awards.

Brown, who spent almost an entire month in the hospital after the crash, made his appearance early on in the show, with co-host Keith Urban introducing him to present the night's first award for group of the year. The award ultimately went to Old Dominion.

"I'm so blessed to be back on this stage, and I want to thank everyone in the country community for their love and support. And to all the life-saving first responders, words are not enough," Brown said on the stage before he presented the award.

blanco brown
Blanco Brown
| Credit: Shearer/ACMA2021/Getty Images

Speaking to reporters, including PEOPLE, backstage after the show, Brown shared an update on his recovery.

"I'm coming along, I'm blessed," Brown exclusively told PEOPLE. "I'm still rehabbing four to five times a week, and just building my strength so I can keep it going."

Blanco Brown
Blanco Brown
| Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty

Brown also told reporters that being at the show "felt magical" as he expressed his excitement to start performing for fans again.

"I can't wait to get back on stage and perform for the first time, just to be on stage with the lights and having something to do," said Brown. "Purpose over everything is what I stress to myself all the time, and to others, so it's just a blessing. I mean, it ain't really no words, but I wore 'purpose' on my ring so purpose over everything."

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Brown's accident occurred on Aug. 31, 2020, near his home in Atlanta. The country star suffered "significant injuries" and underwent a 12-hour surgery, his record label said in a statement after the crash. Two weeks later, the label updated fans, assuring them that after a second 12-hour surgery, Brown is expected to "make a full recovery."

In total, he spent almost an entire month in the hospital, with half of that time in the ICU. From there, he moved temporarily into his father's house, frequently traveling back and forth for physical therapy.

"When you go through something like that, you choose to either be strong or you choose to let it break you," Brown told PEOPLE last month of the accident. "People that choose to let it break them — they never really recover fully."

The "I Need Love" singer also told PEOPLE last month that he began songwriting again for the first time since the crash. "When it hurts so bad, you can't write," admitted the star, who said he plans to release a new single this summer and release a new album as soon as this fall.

"I just started back [writing]. And everything is going great. Same purpose, same meaning, just a couple more stories added," he said.

The 2021 ACM Awards, co-hosted by Urban and Mickey Guyton, aired live on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and Paramount+.