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Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw + More Honored as 2013 CMT Artists of the Year

CMT Artists Of The Year
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw and other country superstars were honored as the 2013 CMT Artists of the Year on Tuesday (Dec. 3). The recipients all gave smashing performances and heartfelt speeches to make the evening a very special celebration of their successes.

The ceremony took place in Nashville and was a celebratory and entertaining event. Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes, Florida Georgia Line, Bryan and McGraw were applauded by their peers throughout a full evening jam packed with performances and special appearances.

McGraw was the first honoree of the evening, and was given his trophy by Dwight Yoakam. The singer was sure to thank his girls — wife Faith Hill and three daughters, who accompanied him for the evening — as well as giving props to the younger, newer generation of artists who he said inspire him in his own career. In addition, trio Lady Antebellum performed ‘Highway Don’t Care’ with special (and surprise!) guest Peter Frampton rocking out on the guitar.

FGL delivered ‘Stay’ and received their award from Alabama, one of their musical idols. They made sure to thank country radio and their fellow peers for accepting them in country music, as well as their fans for being loyal and supportive.

Four-time CMT Artist of the Year Aldean also was honored, both with the award itself and with a performance of ‘Night Train’ by Cassadee Pope and Travis Tritt. He received his prize from ‘Nashville‘ star Hayden Panettiere and was heartfelt in his acceptance speech, speaking of the high amount of respect he holds for his peers in the room.

The youngest of the recipients, Hayes, performed alongside Pat Monahan from Train, lighting up the stage with ‘I Want Crazy’ and ‘Hey, Soul Sister.’ Hayes was given his award by Frampton and spoke of the happiness he felt in sharing his success with those in the room.

Last but not least, two-time honoree Bryan was the final recipient of a 2013 CMT Artists of the Year award, with close friend and drinking buddy Dierks Bentley presenting him with his award, fittingly. With cheeks that were cramped from smiling so much (not that we’re surprised; he’s never without a smile!), Bryan expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped him along the way.

In typical humorous fashion, the singer swore he never intended for his popular behind to get so much attention for all its shaking. Bryan closed out the evening with Lionel Richie in a special rendition of ‘Oh No’ and ‘All Night Long.’

Hosted by Ron White, the legendary Ron Burgundy and cast of ‘Anchorman 2′ made a special appearance, prompting a whole lot of laughs. Encore presentations of ‘CMT Artists of the Year’ will air Dec. 5 at 8PM ET and Dec. 7 at 2PM ET.

Next: Feast Your Eyes on Luke Bryan's Booty Shakin'

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