Annual 52nd CMA Awards, started off with a moment of silence lead by Garth Brooks for those lost in Thousand Oaks California followed by a uplifting rendition of “What Makes You Country” by Luke Bryan and then joined by Ashly McBryde, Cole Swindell, Luke combs, and more.
Brad and Carrie’s opening this year did not disappoint – especially with their spoof on A Star is Born with A Star is Bored. And then the puns continued, with talk about Carrie’s pregnancy with the baby boy announcement and a funny yodeling tune with Mason Ramsey aka “Little Hank.” They touched on all the new artist bars in Nashville and joked about Brad’s Whiskey Lullaby Bar and Day Care Center. We even got to watch Luke Bryan floss which we are sure has already been turned into a meme.
The first award of the night was presented by Lady A for Song of the Year, which went to Chris Stapleton for “Broken Halos” written with Mike Henderson.
Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert performed “Drowns the Whiskey,” leaving us no doubts about this being a live show — the finish was powerful though.
MacKenzie Foy and Noah Schnapp presented New Artist of the Year to Luke Combs. “God, I love Country music man,” Luke Combs said at the end of his award speech.
Then a quick segue into “Life Changes” performed by Thomas Rhett with the Ravenwood High School Marching Band. All the award attendees were on their feet. Dan + Shay then performed “Tequila.” The harmonies and sound were spot on — they truly are a powerhouse duo.
Carly Pearce, Jimmie Allen and Dustin Lynch presented the award for Single of the Year to Chris Stapleton for “Broken Halos.” He said the song was written about those that had gone before their time and he dedicated the award to those who lost their lives in California.
To honor Dottie West at the awards Lauren Alaina sang the chorus for Dottie’s hit “Lesson in Leavin.” Kelsea Ballerini then performed her latest hit “Miss Me More.” The choreograph was professionally fierce as was her voice.
Following, was Old Dominion performing “Hotel Key” and then Carrie Underwood performed “Love Wins.”
Kane Brown and Olivia Culpo presented Vocal Group of the Year award to Old Dominion. They were honored to accept the award and spoke about how much they had to be grateful for.
Brett Young performed a smooth acoustic rendition of his song “Mercy.” Brett then thanked Country radio for making “Mercy” his 4th consecutive No. 1 radio single.
Ricky Skaggs and his band then performed “Black Eyed Suzie.” Talk about some amazing picking! Then he was joined by Keith Urban on “Highway 40 Blues.” And if that wasn’t enough out came Brad Paisley, Sierra Hull, and Marty Stewart to join Ricky for “Country Boy.” It was a perfect collaboration tribute. Ricky Skaggs is the newest member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
After a short commercial break, the awards returned with a performance of “Eastbound and Down” by Midland. The song was originally recorded by Jerry Reed for Smokey and the Bandit so it was quite fitting that clips from it were played in the background.
Little Big Town then presented the award for Album of the Year to Kacey Musgraves for Golden Hour with Producers Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian. Kacey moved to Nashville ten years ago today and this award couldn’t have been a better way for her to celebrate.
FGL then performed “Meant to Be” with Bebe Rexha which was nominated for Musical Event of the Year. Luke Combs then performed “She Got the Best of Me.” Following was Keith Urban performing “Never Comin Down.”
Garth Brooks debuted “Stronger Than Me” for the first time to the world during the CMA Awards. The song was written for his wife Trisha Yearwood. It was Garth and his guitar under a spotlight. It was beautiful and Garth made it through without crying – which he admitted was his biggest worry before the show. But I am sure their wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Sharna Burgess and Bobby Bones presented the award for Vocal Duo of the Year to Brothers Osborne. This is the third time they have won Vocal Duo of the Year and they gave a shout out to Dan + Shay who were fellow nominees in this category.
Pistol Annies then performed “Got My Name Changed Back” from their latest album Interstate Gospel and washboards were included. Pistol Annies consists of Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe.
Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne performed “Burning Man” in a ring of fire, literally. There was a ring fire on the stage floor surrounding them. Great use of pyrotechnics for imagery.
Rita Wilson then welcomed Maren Morris, Mavis Staples, Marty Stewart, and Chris Stapleton to the stage to perform “Friendship” and “I’ll Take You There.” What a spiritual experience and amazing collaboration.
After a brief commercial break, Brad Paisley performed “Bucked Off.”
Martina McBride and Lara Spencer presented Male Vocalist of the Year to Chris Stapleton.
“I’m real proud of this award and try to be a good singer. But I want to thank my kids for putting up with me and sharing me with all these people. I want to thank my wife for being my rock,” says Stapleton. “There’s so many people to thank that there is not enough time on this show.”
Kacey Musgraves followed with “Slow Burn” off of her album Golden Hour, which won Album of the Year. Then Eric Church performed his latest album title track “Desperate Man.”
Dennis Quaid and Trisha Yearwood presented the award for Female Vocalist of the Year to Carrie Underwood.
This was Carrie’s fifth win for Female Vocalist of the Year. “Thank you God. I have been blessed with so much in my life. Thank you family. Thank you Country music. Thank you Country music family. It’s all about family around here.” says Carrie, “This means so much.”
Lionel Richie presented the award for Entertainer of the Year to Keith Urban.
“Thank you so much. I am shocked beyond shocked. I have the most amazing team in the world. So many people to thank. The fans, Country radio… everyone. God I thank you so much and I wish my dad was alive to see this but I am sure he is watching me up there,” says Urban. “God Bless Country music and God bless all of you.”
Full list of CMA Award winners:
Song of the Year: “Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton & Mike Henderson
New Artist of the Year: Luke Combs
Single of the Year: “Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
Vocal Group of the Year: Old Dominion
Album of the Year: Golden Hour: Kacey Musgraves
Music Video of the Year: “Marry Me,” Thomas Rhett
Musical Event of the Year: “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” David Lee Murphy with Kenny Chesney
Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally, guitar
Vocal Duo of the Year: Brothers Osborne
Male Vocalist of the Year: Chris Stapleton
Female Vocalist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Entertainer of the Year: Keith Urban
Story by Amanda Andrews | Photos by Getty Images