Taylor Swift et al to Be Honored at 2011 CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR

CMT-20010101

Stars from across the entertainment spectrum were shining brightly at last week's 2011 ARTISTS OF THE YEAR, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift, for their successes of the past year. The 90-minute special, hosted by Rob Lowe, will premiere Tuesday, December 13 from 9:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., ET/PT on CMT and CMT.com.

"Today, country music is bigger than ever and (is) the undisputed heavyweight champion when it comes to melody, humanity and storytelling," Lowe commented as he kicked off the evening's festivities. "It's no accident that tonight all of the five artists that we honor are singer-songwriters and storytellers."

The honorees were celebrated throughout the evening with surprise performances by artists spanning musical genres, including Gavin DeGraw, The All-American Rejects, Joe Walsh and The Avett Brothers. Heartfelt moments and humor were shared equally throughout the evening, from a variety of presenters representing the best of the music, sports, television and film including Sara Evans, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, Lionel Richie and William Shatner. Other stars including Matthew McConaughey, Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Ellen Degeneres and Jeff Gordon appeared to congratulate the honorees on their big night.

In addition to the television taping, the evening included an elegant three-course dinner created by celebrity chef Stephanie Izard, a James Beard Award Nominee, one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs" and the only woman to win Bravo's "Top Chef". Stephanie Izard is the chef and partner of the Chicago restaurant Girl & the Goat and recently released her first cookbook titled Girl in the Kitchen.

Over the past 12 months, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift have collectively received over 2.7 million spins of their current songs; sold over 9 million copies of their current albums; sold over 20 million individual downloads of their current singles; and have garnered over 10.2 million video streams, in addition to topping both the touring and CMT.com charts, proving themselves to be the top country artists for 2011.

For exclusive photo galleries, videos and more, visit CMT.com. Fans can also follow CMT on Twitter (@FollowCMT) with hashtag #CMTAOTY, Facebook, or download CMT's mobile app, CMT Insider, at www.cmt.com/app.

CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR is executive produced by Rac Clark. John Hamlin and Margaret Comeaux serve as executive producers for CMT.

CMT, a unit of Viacom's MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is the leading television and digital authority on country music and entertainment, reaching more than 93 million homes in the U.S. CMT and its website, CMT.com, offer an unparalleled mix of music, news, live concerts and series and is the top resource for country music on demand. The network's digital platforms include the 24-hour music channel, CMT Pure Country, CMT Mobile and CMT VOD.