The boys 'round here are celebrating at the first-ever People's Choice Country Awards.
Blake Shelton took the stage during the inaugural event at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Sept. 28 to present fellow country music superstar Toby Keith with the Country Icon award. (See every country star on the red carpet here.)
While honoring the "Red Solo Cup" singer for his decades-long career and his impact on the country music scene, Blake reflected on opening for Toby on a nationwide tour when he was just starting out more than two decades ago—including a hilarious memory of getting dissed one night.
"They say your big break comes when you sign a record deal or your first song comes out. And for me, one of those things was to get the chance to open for Toby Keith," Blake explained. "Back when I was a new artist, I got the chance to go out on the road with Toby and then, night after night, 20,000 fans showed up to see Toby perform and he kept them fat and happy."
And while on the 2004 tour, Blake has one memory that has stuck with him all these years.
"I remember one night, it was after an award show," he recalled, "and Toby had been up for like four or five awards and, man, he didn't win crap that night. I was talking to him after that and I had the nerve—I was so excited to be able to get under his skin—I said, ‘Man, Toby, if I ever make it big enough one day and I get nominated for some awards, I hope it's against you.'"
But Toby had a different reason for saddling up with the young buck on tour.
"I swear, Toby looked at me and he said, ‘You know why I brought you out on tour with me?' And I said, ‘No,'" Blake continued. "And he goes, ‘I wanted to prove to this industry that I don't really need an opening act.'"
All jokes aside, the "God's Country" artist also shared how his fellow Oklahoman shaped his time in music back in the day.
"Watching him, I felt the impact of Toby's music from the anthems that spoke to the bigger things to the songs that are full of humor and energy and the soundtrack to good times," Blake reflected. "Man I was out there with Toby for, it was a long time, like almost two years I think. I finally go the point where I was comfortable enough being around him."
He added, "I love my Oklahoma brother, everybody."
Meanwhile, Toby isn't the only honoree of the night. Wynonna Judd is receiving the first Country Champion Award for her career in country music along with her advocacy throughout the years, including working closely with the Wounded Warrior Project and Habitat for Humanity.
As for other fan favorites nominated at the PCCAs? Well, the list of superstars includes Luke Combs, Hardy, Jelly Roll, Elle King and Carrie Underwood.
And, of course, those in Nashville and at home are being wowed by a series of stellar performances from the likes of Kelsea Ballerini, Dan + Shay and Little Big Town, just to name a few.
And for a complete look at all the stars who strapped on their cowboy hats and headed out to the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards, keep reading...