At 2022 CMT Awards, Maddie Font Opens Up About the Stress of Tae Kerr's Rocky Road to Motherhood

On the red carpet before winning group/duo video of the year, the Maddie & Tae partner talks about the difficulties of being solo on such a special night: "It's terrifying"

Maddie Font and Jonah Font
Maddie Marlow Font and Jonah Font. Photo: Jeff Kravitz/Getty

In one of the CMT Awards' most memorable moments on Monday night, Maddie Marlow Font could hardly speak through her emotions as she accepted the prize for group/duo video of the year — and no wonder she was overcome.

As one-half of Maddie & Tae, she was appearing solo in public for the first time in the duo's decade-long career. Her partner, Taylor Dye Kerr, was home taking care of her infant daughter, Leighton Grace, who was born almost three months prematurely on Jan. 17.

"Oh, I miss you, I miss you so much," Font, 26, tearfully told Kerr, also 26, who appeared remotely, holding the baby, on a big screen at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium. "I can't do this without you!"

Indeed, such a separation would have been unthinkable before Kerr was hospitalized in December to save her pregnancy. After Leighton was born, the duo declared on Twitter: "She's beautiful, strong and everything we have ever dreamed of." Weighing 2 lbs., 5 oz. at birth, Leighton spent 53 days in a newborn intensive care unit before finally being released on March 11.

josh kerr tae dye
Josh Kerr/Instagram; Inset: Steve Granitz/WireImage

On the red carpet before the show, Font opened up about the stress of the past few months as she's watched her best friend and her husband, songwriter Josh Kerr, be tested.

"I had my big meltdown last week, got all my feelings out," she revealed to PEOPLE. "It's been rough, very challenging. Just any curveball you could imagine has been thrown. So, I've surrendered everything to God and whatever his plan is, I'm just going to go with it."

Accompanied by her husband, business entrepreneur Jonah Font, she admitted being without Kerr at the awards show was "terrifying."

"I really don't like doing things without Tae," Font said, "because I haven't done anything without her since I was 16."

CMT Portrait Studio
Maddie Marlow Font. The Tyler Twins

She also revealed she's had to reassure Kerr over their priorities. "She's taking care of a human baby," Font said. "I'm taking care of the music baby, and my baby [Jonah] is here to help me. It's all about balance, but at the end of the day, our friendship comes first, and our family and our sisterhood. So, as long as that foundation is good and rock-solid as it has been, we can do anything."

Check out PEOPLE's full CMT Awards coverage to get the latest news on country music's big night.

Font said she has stayed present with Kerr throughout her ordeal, and "I've just tried to pour love on her. I know she was really worried about our career. There's this dumb-ass stigma where, if you have a baby, you can't have a career. And we're just trying to bust that whole BS out, because women can do everything, and then when you have a great man next to you, it's even more unstoppable."

In fact, the duo released their latest album, Through the Madness Vol. 1, just 11 days after the baby's birth, and they have concert dates on the calendar starting in June.

Font reported that Leighton is "a magical little girl" who now weighs "6 pounds and some change."

"I can't wait for the world to meet her," she said, adding that Kerr is "rocking motherhood. It looks so good on her. She's staying calm, way calmer than I think I would, but that's her superpower."

Font also said she's fully prepared for her new role as "built-in auntie."

"I've already got her crib and everything at our house for date night," she said — and she added, expectantly, "we're ready for babies in the next couple of years. So we're prepared. We're baby people."

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