Happiness is something best shared. That’s a lesson Hunter Hayes, 22, has learned well in his short time in the country music spotlight. The “I Want Crazy” singer was grinning ear-to-ear on Tuesday night in Nashville when he was one of the honorees at the fourth annual CMT Artists of the Year celebration.
“This kind of thing is something you dream about,” Hayes said of the award, which was presented to him by rock icon Peter Frampton. “I don’t just make music, but I live it, I breathe it. It’s all I do. It’s all I know. It’s all I’ll ever know and all I want to know.”
The Louisiana native was just one of the night’s spotlight artists, taking the stage alongside Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw and breakout “Cruise” duo Florida Georgia Line.
“Being included in this group of people is pretty stunning, as you can tell by the quivering in my voice and the complete nerves that I’m fighting every second here,” Hayes said . “But there’s this line that happiness is only good when it’s shared.” The singer added that the best part of his job is not only does he get to do what he loves, but he’s also been able to tour the world with some of his favorite musicians, playing for his beloved fans.
Hayes capped the night by hooking up with Train singer Pat Monahan for a pair of songs, including his own “I Want Crazy” and Train’s “Hey Soul Sister.”
It was also a huge night for Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, who were presented with their award by country icon Alabama. “It’s really cool what’s going on in the music industry right now,” Kelley said. “A lot of cool sounds are happening, and everybody’s kind of got their own brand of country music, and that’s what makes it special.”
Hubbard thanked fans for believing in the pair and gifted the crowd with a performance of their rocking #2 Billboard country songs hit, “Stay.”
The 90-minute show opened with a segment featuring “Anchorman 2″ star Ron Burgundy and the cast of the film in which the always-classy Burgundy lamented that the “other Ron” (comedian Ron White) was chosen to host the show. “[Why would you] order White when you can have Burgundy?” San Diego’s finest asked the audience at Nashville’s Music City Center.
The night also featured Lady Antebellum playing McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care” with Frampton, “The Voice” alum Cassadee Pope hooking up with Travis Tritt for Aldean’s “Night Train” and “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere giving a heartfelt speech before handing Aldean his hardware.
An encore presentation of the 2013 CMT Artists of the Year will air on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Saturday at 2 p.m. ET/PT.