Country music’s biggest night has rolled around yet again, bringing country music fans an incredible night filled with live music, laughs and career altering award wins. The 52nd Annual Country Music Association Awards aired live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee last night on ABC.
Six-time CMA Entertainer of the Year award-winning icon, Garth Brooks opened the show with a special tribute to the twelve victims of the horrific Thousand Oaks mass shooting that took place last week in California. Brooks began the evening by lovingly dedicating the award ceremony to each of the victims followed by leading a moment of silence while each of their names appeared on the screen.
Kicking off the many musical performances of the night, superstar Luke Bryan filled the room with positive energy as he was joined by New Artist of the Year winner Luke Combs, Cole Swindell, Jon Pardi, Lindsay Ell, Ashley McBryde and Chris Janson for an infectious performance of his latest single and every country music lover’s anthem, “What Makes You Country.”
Welcoming the audience, eleventh-time hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley took the stage to deliver a hilarious musical monologue loosely based off of the film A Star Is Born, calling out a few fellow country stars. Paisley even jokingly surprised Underwood with yodeling sensation Mason Ramsey, portraying her firstborn son. Speaking of sons, the queen of country music amusingly revealed the gender of the baby she is carrying. When Underwood was pregnant with her first son, Paisley accidentally revealed his gender live on the air during the 2014 CMAs. This time, Paisley pressed Underwood until she finally admitted she will be having another baby boy. Later in the evening, the co-hosts took a moment to share their support and thanks to the firefighters battling the Woolsey wildfires in California.
There was a total of twenty-one outstanding performances throughout the night, but we’ve narrowed those down to some of our favorites. Music Video of the Year winner, Thomas Rhett, gave an extremely entertaining performance of his number one single “Life Changes,” which started out in a reimagined version of his college dorm room and progressed into the singer-songwriter performing all throughout the crowd with a full marching band. Rhett’s gorgeous wife, Lauren, planted a kiss on Rhett as he passed her on his way to the main stage.
Dan + Shay absolutely stunned with their vocals during their performance of “Tequila.” Fake snow was falling, to go along with the theme of the single’s official music video, as the duo gave fans goosebumps with their exceptional vocal range. Paying tribute to the late, great Dottie West, Lauren Alaina honored the recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee by performing a rendition of the classic hit, “A Lesson In Leavin.’” Alaina’s vocals undoubtedly did the hit justice. Fellow recent Country Music Hall of Fame member, Ricky Skaggs, gave a once in a lifetime performance of a mashup of a few of his hits, featuring an all-star guest list to celebrate his induction. Skaggs was joined by his band Kentucky Thunder to perform “Black Eyed Suzie,” along with John Osborne of Vocal Duo of the Year Brothers Osborne and Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban to perform “Highway 40 Blues” and closed out the performance with “Country Boy,” joined by Marty Stuart and co-host Paisley. Entertainer of the Year, Urban gave an epic performance of his current single “Never Comin Down” on top of the jumbo screens, featuring alluring visuals. The multi-platinum seller received a standing ovation, unquestionably proving why he was deserving of the biggest award of the night.
Brooks returned to the stage to debut a brand new song entitled “Stronger Than Me,” that he wrote for his wife, two-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year winner, Trisha Yearwood. The singer-songwriter performed solo with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his chilling vocals. The emotional lyrics brought Yearwood to tears as she watched her husband, front and center.
Maren Morris, Morgane Stapleton, Marty Stuart, Mavis Staples, and Chris Stapleton teamed up for an unbelievable mashup performance of Stapleton’s “Friendship” and Staples’ “I’ll Take You There.” The collaboration had everyone up on their feet, singing along. Album of the Year winner, Kacey Musgraves showcased her angelic, silky smooth vocals while strumming along to her own acoustic guitar for a stunning performance of “Slow Burn” off of Golden Hour.
The most powerful performance of the night was delivered by co-host Underwood. She absolutely dazzled in a beautiful royal blue gown, blowing everyone away with her striking vocal range on her anthem, “Love Wins.” The Female Vocalist of the Year was joined by a full choir which helped to close the performance of the powerful song in the shape of a heart, surrounding Underwood. You could feel the palpable energy through your television screen.
Stapleton lead last night’s wins with Song of the Year, Single of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. The singer-songwriter gave an emotional speech thanking his wife and children for allowing him to invest so much time into his career.
Musgraves was the only female artist in the Album of the Year category and deservingly won for her fourth studio album, Golden Hour, explaining during her acceptance speech that earlier in the day she had realized it had been 10 years to the day that she made her move to Nashville.
Luke Combs received the award for New Artist of the Year. He will kick off his first ever arena headlining tour this Winter.
Brothers Osborne took home Vocal Duo of the Year for the third consecutive year in a row, giving a hilarious yet thankful speech. Underwood reigns as the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year for the fifth time. She “cried pretty” as she delivered a tearful speech, thanking God, country music and all of the many “families” in her life.
Closing out the memorable evening, Urban was not expecting his win for Entertainer of the Year. His fellow competitor Bryan, shot up right out of his seat in excitement as his friend’s name was announced. Urban tearfully accepted the award, thanking his wife, actress Nicole Kidman and their children, as well as his “phenomenal” fans. He also gave mention to his late father, “wishing he was alive to see this.” Watch his moving acceptance speech below.
The 2018 CMA Awards was another one for the books. Below is a full list of winners from the epic night.
Entertainer of the Year: Keith Urban
Female Vocalist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Male Vocalist of the Year: Chris Stapleton
New Artist of the Year: Luke Combs
Vocal Group of the Year: Old Dominion
Vocal Duo of the Year: Brothers Osborne
Album of the Year: Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves
Song of the Year: “Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
Single of the Year: “Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
Music Video of the Year: “Marry Me” – Thomas Rhett
Musical Event of the Year: “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” – David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney
Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally – Guitar
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