CMT Awards move to Moody Center for 2023

Logan Dubel, General Life&Arts Reporter

The lights will dim on the Moody Center stage this spring as the Country Music Television Awards go live from their new home in the live music capital of the world. The awards show previously broadcasted from another beacon of country music: Nashville, Tennessee. 

One of country music’s reigning queens, Carrie Underwood, announced the news while on Moody’s stage this month. Kelsea Ballerini, the returning CMTs host, surprised Underwood on stage for the big news. 

At the Nov. 2 concert, the pair announced that the CMTs will take place in Austin for the first time since its founding in 1967. The CMTs will announce nominees in mid-March ahead of the star-studded night, set to air live on CBS on April 2. For the newly opened Moody Center, the move brings welcome attention. Michael Owens, the Moody Center’s vice president of programming, said the venue continues to dominate as a destination for music fans, artists and their teams. 

“(Executives) want to bring them to Austin and give them that unique, authentic experience,” Owens said. “CBS and the CMTs fell in love with the city and this building. … We couldn’t be more thrilled to be welcoming them next year.” 

Owens said conversations began two years ago with the CMTs, and while the show’s relationship with Nashville will likely continue, Austin will now serve as home base. With interest in the awards continually growing and garnering five million viewers in 2022, Owens said the move to Austin will continue its growth, momentum and prominence. 

Just like the Moody Center, which sports local sponsors, Owens said the CMTs will renew its local focus, with plans to broadcast select performances from Austin’s catalog of various smaller music venues. Owens said the show will highlight the city’s finest with additional interactive experiences throughout the week leading up to the show. 

Hole in the Wall, a well-known bar on The Drag, hopes to get in on the action. Lynn Cowles, the dive bar’s event coordinator, said the venue has regularly welcomed developing acts since its opening in 1974.

“The Hole in the Wall represents the uniqueness of Austin’s status as a live music attraction. When people come in, they go, ‘Oh, this feels like old Austin,” Cowles said. “I’m looking forward to hopefully watching the Country Music Television Awards continue highlighting … and investing in the local community and finding some of our rising stars.” 

Although logistics remain in the works, the public will vote on the awards and be able to purchase tickets for the event. Gianna Razack, a government freshman and avid music fan,  said the CMTs will build Austin’s cultural scene, which was one of the reasons why she chose UT. 

“I’m a music lover of all kinds, and I love how Austin has such a variety of music, and you can find anything you want to listen to,” Razack said. “Hearing (music) live makes me feel a little closer to home.” 

In Owen’s eyes, this move makes a statement about Austin’s stature in the live music scene across the country. 

“The message is: Don’t sleep on Austin anymore. Austin has earned this crown as the live music capital for a reason, and it’s because the fans are ravenous for live music,” Owens said. “It’s no longer a town you can skip.”