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October 12, 2017 02:43 PM

Following devastating hurricanes and the tragic mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, CMT has announced its plans to transform this year’s CMT Artists of the Year special from a year-end celebration applauding country music’s top artists this year into a night of hope and healing through the power of music.

Ditching the formal awards show setup with presentations and acceptance speeches, the night will instead feature honorees Chris StapletonFlorida Georgia LineJason AldeanKeith Urban and Luke Bryan, who will send heartfelt messages directly to their fans during the 90-minute special.

Grammy-nominated singer Andra Day and Grammy winners Little Big Town will kick off the evening with a performance “Rise Up.” Day, Little Big Town and Grammy winner Lee Ann Womack will also perform Day’s new collaboration “Stand Up For Something” with Common.

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“Given the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the mass shootings in Las Vegas, we feel a commitment to our fans to address all of the tragedies not in one somber and solemn moment or segment, but rather devote the entire evening to uplifting the fans through high-spirited music,” said Frank Tanki, General Manager of CMT and TV Land. “Both ‘Rise Up’ and ‘Stand Up for Something’ are inspirational anthems that perfectly sum the message for the evening. The special has always been a place where artists from different genres can stand side-by-side, and now more than ever, we want to showcase the power of unity and resilience through music.”

The eighth annual special will air live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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