Kane Brown was named an Artist of the Year at Country Music Television’s (CMT) annual awards event on Wednesday night, only a week after his longtime drummer and close friend Kenny Dixon died.
The accolade was presented to Brown by fellow country musician Chris Young, who touched on the “rough time” the One Right Thing singer was having before passing him the microphone.
Though Brown, 25, was met with roaring applause, he struggled to keep his composure on stage.
“Thank y’all so much…” he said before breaking down into tears. “I wanna dedicate this to my drummer, Kenny.
“He started with this. He started with me, coming out of Chattanooga off of 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,” Brown said.
Dixon was killed in a car crash on Oct. 12 in Tennessee. He crashed into a tree while exiting the I-24 interstate, according to Variety.
He was 27 years old and was set to marry his fiancée, Sarah Hedrick, on Nov. 30. The couple shared a young son together, Levi.
In the wake of the news, Brown shared a heartfelt message on Twitter honouring his former bandmate.
“I’m gonna miss you so much man,” he wrote.
Before introducing Brown, Young, 34, took the CMT stage to perform a heavy-hitting rendition of his recent smash hit Drowning, which was written after the death of his own friend. As a tribute, he dedicated the performance to Dixon.
Young even had some words of support to offer Brown after the passing of his drummer and friend.
“Kane and I have gotten to know each other not only from touring but from writing songs, hanging out together, and I’ve just been so incredibly lucky to be able to call this guy a brother and a friend. He’s like family,” Young said.
“As you guys know, it’s been a rough time for him. His dear friend and drummer, Kenny Dixon, passed away in a tragic car accident.”
Young continued: “Understandably, a lot of us can’t even imagine what he’s going through, but he really felt it was important to be here tonight so I’m very proud to present this to my friend, Kane Brown.”
In concluding his emotional speech, Brown thanked his friends, family, fans, management and collaborators for honouring him as one of CMT’s Artists of the Year.
“God bless you guys. Y’all stay safe. I love y’all.”