Lee Brice and Carly Pearce won’t be hitting the stage together at the 2020 CMA Awards, but they’re still celebrating. It was announced on Wednesday morning that the two won for Musical Event of the Year for their single, “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”
The news comes after Brice tested positive for COVID-19. The country crooners was scheduled to perform a duet with Pearce at the CMA Awards. However, Lady A’s Charles Kelley will now step in for him and sing “I Hope You’re Happy Now” with the singer.
“I can’t even begin to express the gratitude I have for this single moment. GOD IS SO GOOD!,” Brice said in a statement following his and Pearce’s win. “Quarantined, locked off from the world, my family, my babies, and yet I’ve been feeling more reflective and more grateful in the silence than I have in a really long time. Just when I truly believe I couldn’t ask for a single thing more, y’all hit me with this! Y’all, thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Carly – thank you for believing in me! Thank you, CMA! Thank you to my fans for being the best and I’m looking forward to this upcoming year with you all!”
A day prior, Pearce spoke with ET’s Rachel Smith about Brice’s diagnosis.
“Lee is doing good. He doesn’t have any symptoms so that’s great. So he’s doing well and quarantining,” Pearce said ahead of the awards ceremony. “I found out [Monday] and it was obviously a disappointment just because we’ve had so much to celebrate with this song. We finally felt like we were going to be able to do it [Wednesday]. But it’s OK because things happen and I’m glad that he’s OK.”
“I’m so thankful to the CMAs for realizing this song was meant to be a duet and it wouldn’t sound right if I sang it by myself,” she noted, adding, “Charles Kelley of Lady A for the win!”
When it came to replacing Brice, Pearce shared that the CMAs had suggested him to replace Brice.
“The CMAs actually had the idea for Charles. And what’s funny is when we were thinking about people for the song, Charles was one of the voices that I knew could do it,” she explained. “So it’s kind of like this really full circle moment of like, ‘Well, I’m just gonna sing it with him too and try it out.'”
As for how the change and Brice’s COVID diagnosis has affected her feelings about the show, Pearce admitted “it’s definitely different” but feels “very safe.”
“I feel very lucky that we’re getting to put on a show,” she continued. “We’re getting to come all together in a safe form and fashion and somehow the CMAs have been able to do that and make sure we’re all safe and doing it correctly and by protocol. And we get to have a show which I think, you know, the silver living in this year is that.”
In a statement released to ET, the Country Music Association confirmed that Brice would no longer attend Wednesday’s ceremony. They also confirmed that Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard will also be absent due to testing positive for the coronavirus.
“Although this is incredibly disappointing, not only for the show but also for CMA personally as we care deeply for these artists and only want the best for them and their families, it does reassure us that our protocols are working,” the statement read.
The CMAs also provided assurance that neither performer had been on the set of the awards ceremony or put anyone else involved at risk.
“Our process enabled us to manage each situation immediately and before either artist ever entered our set,” the statement noted. “Most importantly, it prevented anyone else from being exposed. We have been extremely diligent with our testing process in advance of anyone entering our footprint. Every single person has been tested, and many will be tested repeatedly throughout the week. This is in addition to wearing PPE and of course practicing social and physical distancing.”
The statement concluded by assuring fans that there was still “an incredible” show planned.
Additionally in a statement to ET, Brice’s rep confirmed he would not be performing at the CMA Awards. “While in good spirits and not experiencing any symptoms, he will not be performing as scheduled for this year’s show and will be isolating at home until cleared by doctors,” the statement said. “Lee would like to thank the CMAs and all of his incredible fans for his nominations and is wishing his fellow nominees an incredible evening celebrating the best of Country music.”
The 54th Annual CMA Awards will air live on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT on ABC.
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