Carly Pearce was completely overtaken by emotion as she approached the mic to accept the award for 2021 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year.

It was a surprise moment — especially for her — during Wednesday night's (Nov. 10) 2021 CMA Awards, which aired live from Nashville.

The tension in the room as the nominees were announced was almost too much for viewers to take, but once Pearce's name was announced, the room erupted in applause. After planting a smooch on boyfriend Riley King, Pearce found her way to the stage, only to double over in shock once she got there.

"I didn't think this was going to happen," Pearce said through flowing tears as fellow nominee Ashley McBryde came up on the stage to help her friend through the moment.

And while the tears kept coming, Pearce was able to continue her acceptance speech, thanking pivotal members of her team while also making it known how much this achievement meant to her.

"It's been a crazy year, and this means everything to me," said Pearce, adding that "country music saved me when I needed it the most." She's likely referring to her very public divorce from fellow country singer Michael Ray, the thought of which made the emotional moment that much more so.

Pearce was one of five 2021 CMA Female Vocalist nominees, competing for the honor against Gabby BarrettMiranda LambertAshley McBryde and Maren Morris.

The Country Music Association held the 2021 CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. The show, hosted for the first time by Luke Bryan, returned to the venue — its home since 2006 — after one year at Music City Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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