Country star Kane Brown, unabashedly distraught over the death of his touring drummer Kenny Dixon just four days earlier in a car accident, dedicated his CMT Artists of the Year award to Dixon in a heart-rending appearance on the telecast Wednesday night.
Brown ceded the performance slot he would have been allowed to friend Chris Young, who followed Brown’s speech with a song he had written for a friend who also died in an automobile accident, “Drowning,” which had just been released as a single in June. Young kept up a stoic demeanor during his performance, but the emotion he was feeling was evident from the hasty retreat he made from the microphone as soon as he had finished the song’s final line.
“Whoo,” Brown kept repeating, quietly and nervously, as he anxiously thumbed the corner of his trophy while choking up on the stage of Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center during the live telecast. “I want to dedicate this to my drummer Kenny. He started with me coming out of Chattanooga off Facebook. People didn’t think we would make it. He was with me the whole time. He was so supportive of me. I love you, man, I miss you. The band misses you. … I love the country community, and God bless you guys. Stay safe. I love y’all.”
Said Young, “A lot of us can’t even imagine what he’s going through, but right now he really felt it was really important to be here tonight. … I wrote this song for a friend of mine that passed away too soon in a car accident. So I kind of empathize with Kane and what he’s going through, and I really appreciate him allowing me to stand up here tonight and sing this in honor of his friend Kenny.”
Brown won’t be making all his scheduled appearances in what was due to be one of the most celebratory weeks in his young career. He was scheduled for a sold-out headlining appearance at LA’s Staples Center Friday, but quickly postponed that show after news of Dixon’s death broke. (The rescheduled LA date is January 9, 2020.)
Dixon’s death was not the only one being mourned on the show. Jay Frank, who was a senior VP of music strategy for CMT in the late 2000s, passed away from cancer Sunday, and he was quietly memorialized with an end card at the very close of the telecast.
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