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Country Newcomer Drake Milligan Experiences “Full-Circle” Moment At 2023 CMT Music Awards (Exclusive) 

“CMT kind of gave me my big break,” the rising star tells Celeb Secrets on the aqua carpet on Sunday (April 2). 

AUSTIN, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Drake Milligan attends the 2023 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 02, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CMT)

The name Drake Milligan may be new to some, but the powerhouse vocalist has been tied to the music industry for nearly a decade. 

Long before he made waves on Season 22 of America’s Got Talent, the crooner played the king of Rock & Roll on CMT’s fan-favorite series Sun Records. The 24-year-old is more than an on-screen singer, but officially a CMT nominated artist. 

Milligan was one of many stars that flocked to Austin’s Moody Center on Sunday, April 2, to attend the 2023 CMT Music Awards hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini. The Fort Worth native was nominated in the Male Breakthrough Video Of The Year category for his track “Sounds Like Something I’d Do.” The clip, directed by Mac Grant and Chad Tennis, displays Milligan’s old-school twang and Elvis Presley-like charm. 

The toe-tapping love song penned by Milligan, Brett Beavers, and Terry McBride, received world-renowned praise on AGT and from the distinguished panel of judges – Sofía Vergara, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel. The buzz-worthy tune propelled Milligan into the spotlight and has turned him into a stand-out act. 

While walking on the aqua carpet at the star-studded affair, he humbly told Celeb Secrets that the evening and honor felt like a “full-circle” moment. 

“I’m nominated for Male Breakthrough Video Of The Year. So, my first nomination ever was my first CMT Award. It’s really good to be here in Austin,” he said. “I’m home in Texas. CMT kind of gave me my big break on a show called, Sun Records. I played Elvis. It’s a full circle moment,” he added, embracing the monumental moment. 

The fast-rising star did not walk away with the title. The competition within the category was fierce. Milligan went head to head with country-rocker Jelly Roll, Bailey Zimmerman, Corey Kent, Jackson Dean, and Nate Smith. Jelly Roll, known for his genre-transcending sound and boundary-pushing songwriting, scored the prestigious award. 

Despite the circumstances, Milligan pointed out that he’s still grateful. He continued to express his endless gratitude to his fans and community. 


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“I just feel blessed,” he admitted. “All I’ve really wanted to do is just make music and be out there playing shows. Stuff like this is just going to help me keep doing that. The fans are voting, and I got the best fans in the world. They are at every show singing along everywhere. We just went to London for the first time, and they were singing along over there. I couldn’t believe it…country music is amazing.” 

Following his successful run on AGT and placing in the Top three – Milligan charted back-to-back No.1 hits on the iTunes Country Songs Chart, raked in over 137.1K followers on TikTok alone, and began touring at renowned venues worldwide. The go-getter mentioned that he’s not stopping anytime soon and will continue to keep up the positive momentum. 

“I’m going on the road and doing several festivals this year. We’re playing some fun stuff,” said the vocalist, hinting at his upcoming Stagecoach appearance. “I am always writing. I’m always kind of chomping at the bit to get another record in there. Hopefully, this year we will be able to go in there and cut one,” he added. 

Milligan does not have a secret approach to his artistry, as each track is born organically. He told Celeb Secrets reporter Juliet Schroder that he’s lucky enough to rub elbows with esteemed songsmiths on Music Row and in the Lone Star State – making the creative process a breeze. 

@drakemilligan #CMTAwards, here we go ⚡️ #drakemilligan #countrymusic #cmt #redcarpet #soundslikesomethingiddo ♬ Sounds Like Something I’d Do – Drake Milligan

“I wish I had all these really exciting stories all the time about how you come up with songs, but mostly it is just when you hear something. When you hear something that somebody says, and you go, ‘Oh…that could be a song title.’ It really starts bare bones,” he noted. “If I can stand to be in a room with somebody for five hours, we can usually get a song done. I’m lucky to write with many of the best writers in Nashville and Texas. I’m just lucky to be part of it.” 

Milligan did not confirm a date for his forthcoming album. However, eager fans can catch him on the road this spring. For upcoming appearances, visit Will you be buying tickets to see the breakout star live and in person? Let us know by dropping a reaction below or by sending us a tweet at @celebsecrets

For more on Drake Milligan, watch our full interview from the 2023 CMT Music Awards aqua carpet below.

With reporting by Juliet Schroder. For more coverage from the 2023 CMT Music Awards, click here. For Country news, click here.


Written by Tiffany Goldstein

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