Kane Brown broke down on Wednesday night (Oct. 16) as he accepted his CMT Artist of the Year award just four days after the passing of drummer Kenny Dixon, a friend who'd been around for every step of Brown's journey to country music stardom.
Brown dedicated the honor to his longtime bandmate, the victim of a one-car accident in Christinana, Tenn., located 40 miles southeast of Nashville. The Tennessee Highway Patrol identified speeding as a factor in the car crash after ruling out drug or alcohol use.
"He started with me coming out of Chattanooga off Facebook. People didn't think we would make it. He was with me the whole time. He was so supportive of me," Brown said during his tearful speech. "I love you man, I miss you. The band misses you."
Brown wasn't the only country artist at the CMT Artists of the Year event who was shaken by Dixon's unexpected passing. Chris Young dedicated a moving performance of "Drowning" to the late drummer, while Thomas Rhett led the audience at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center in prayer. "Father God, we love You so much," said Rhett. "[R]ight now, I pray that You would be with Kane and his family, and his drummer Kenny and his family, and bring them peace that only You know how to bring somebody."
Later in the evening, Reba McEntire applauded Rhett's act of faith during her Artist of a Lifetime acceptance speech.
An emotional week for the country community continues this weekend in Dalton, Ga. with Dixon's wake on Saturday (Oct. 19) and his funeral on Sunday (Oct. 20).