NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Country star Kelsea Ballerini is making a last-minute pivot to co-hosting the CMT Music Awards remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 days before the show.
Ballerini and actor Anthony Mackie were set to host the Monday night awards show airing on CBS from Nashville. But on Monday morning, CMT and CBS announced that Ballerini will remain home. She is asymptomatic, and Ballerini said CMT is setting it up so she can perform and co-host from her house.
“It has been set it up in a way where I can safely still co-host the Awards and perform on the show tonight,” Ballerini said in a statement. “This is not what we had planned for, but I am ready to make lemonade out of these lemons.”
The leading nominee for the night, Kane Brown, has been tapped to help Mackie with in-person co-hosting. Brown has twice hosted the fan-voted show, including with Ballerini last year.
“I’m honored the team at CBS and CMT asked me to step in as a co-host and I am so glad to be back again hosting for a bonus third year,” said Brown in a statement. “Everyone has been working hard to put on an amazing show for the fans and I’m excited to get to work with Anthony and Kelsea and have a great night that celebrates country music.”
Mackie, who starred in Marvel’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” promises a fun night.
“Being a host of the CMT Awards is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said Mackie in a statement. “I was excited to be able to do it with Kelsea Ballerini. Now, I get to co-host with both Kelsea and my friend, Kane Brown. Get ready cuz it’s gonna be a fun night!”
The hosting change-up wouldn’t be the last surprise before the show: lightning forced the closure of the CMT’s pink carpet before most stars arrived to have their photos taken and be interviewed.
The CMT Music Awards will feature performances by Kenny Chesney, Mickey Guyton and Black Pumas, Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. The Judds are also reuniting at the CMT Music Awards for their first major awards show performance in over two decades.
Underwood is the most awarded artist in CMT history with 23 prior wins and has a chance to extend her lead with nominations for music video of the year and collaborative video of the year for her duet with Jason Aldean, “If I Didn’t Love You.”