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CMT Award Winner Leon Bridges Thinks Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ Has Country Music ‘Essence’

  • June 7, 2019
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Leon Bridges has nothing but love for rising star Lil Nas X!

The 29-year-old soul singer spoke with PEOPLE during the CMT Awards red carpet Wednesday about “Old Town Road” and the rapper behind the viral track.

“He has the elements of the essence of what country music is and I think the ‘Old Town Road’ song is a fun song,” he told PEOPLE.

“From one brother to another brother, I support him,” he added.

The 20-year-old’s country-trap track has been a topic of controversy in the country music world after it was removed from Billboard’s Hot Country chart in April because it “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music,” according to Billboard.

Lil Nas X’s collaboration with country singer Billy Ray Cyrus has sat at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine weeks and has garnered over 308 million plays on Spotify.

“It was so obvious to me after hearing the song just one time,” Cyrus tweeted in April, defending his decision to feature on the track. “I was thinking, what’s not country about it? What’s the rudimentary element of a country and western song? Then I thought, it’s honest, humble, and has an infectious hook, and a banjo. What the hell more do ya need?”

“If you look at it historically, black artists have always incorporated country music into their sound,” added Bridges. “Look at Ray Charles and it’s always been there. I 100 percent support it.”

Be sure to follow PEOPLE’s full CMT Awards coverage to get the latest news on country’s big night.

For his CMT Crossroads collaboration with Luke Combs, Bridges brought home the award for best music performance on a TV show, series or variety special on CMT. The two singers beat out many first-time nominees such as Boyz II Men, Gladys Knight and Shawn Mendes.

“Prior to working with Luke I didn’t know much about the modern country world,” said the “Coming Home” singer about his country collab. “It’s awesome to see this whole world of people doing their thing.”

Bridges admitted that joining forces with Combs, 29, for a rendition of “Beautiful Crazy” was nerve-racking.

“I was nervous as hell because I didn’t think I would be able to pull off learning four of his songs in time,” he said. “[Combs] came with it and was singing my songs better than I sing them. I was like damn!”

Bridges added a first CMT trophy to his award collection, which includes a Grammy for best traditional R&B performance of “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand.”

The 2019 CMT Awards aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on CMT Wednesday.

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