The 53rd Annual CMA Awards was a night to remember, with incredible and unprecedented collaborations from all of our favorite stars. With female empowerment as a theme woven throughout the show, Nashville’s biggest night brought together female artists for collaborations that we never knew we needed! Check out a full recap of our week in Nashville here and read on for a detailed review of the awards show.
The multi-generational trio of hosts – Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, and Carrie Underwood – opened up the night with the playful song “Those Memories of You”, a single of Parton’s from 1987. This kicked off a 9-minute medley joined by stars ranging from Little Big Town, The Highwomen, Tanya Tucker, who wowed the audience with a rendition of her hit song, “Delta Dawn”, and many more incredible women. This opening act started the night off on a great note as we prepared for the awards and performances to come.
Soon after, the CMA Awards welcomed a powerhouse from the pop genre, P!nk, to join one of country’s biggest megastars, Chris Stapleton. The two performed a soulful version of Pink’s song “Love Me Anyway”, giving the audience chills as they belted the chorus in perfect harmony.
This wasn’t the only time during the night that we saw cross-genre magic. Later in the evening, Halsey joined the legendary country group Lady Antebellum on the stage to perform a medley their songs. Beginning with Lady Antebellum’s emotive ballad “What If I Never Get Over You” and closing with Halsey’s fiery “Graveyard”, this unexpected duo left the audience amazed.
As mentioned, the night showcased the theme of female empowerment. Mid-show, Female Vocalist of the Year nominee Kelsea Ballerini kicked off the most memorable medley of the night. Starting with only an acoustic guitar, Ballerini performed her recent single “homecoming queen?”, a song about accepting who you are and embracing insecurities. The ballad segued into a stunning sequence of female all-stars singing Little Big Town’s hit “Girl Crush”. Female favorites ranging from Runaway June, Lindsey Ell to Best New Artist winner Ashley McBryde rotated into the gorgeous arrangement. The most magical moment happened at the close of the song, when the most powerful females in country, including Little Big Town, joined the stage together, each singing the tune in their unique way.
Perhaps country music’s it-girl Maren Morris performed one of the most notable female solo performances. While rocking her baby bump in an all-white ensemble, the Album of the Year winner flawlessly belted her self-empowerment anthem “GIRL”.
By the end of the show, Dolly Parton proved that at 73, she’s still got it! She teamed up with For King & Country and Zach Williams for a show-stopping performance medley of the songs “God Only Knows” and “There Was Jesus”. In a glittery white gown, the show’s legendary host brought the crowd to their feet with her powerhouse vocals and striking stage presence.
We can’t neglect to mention other highlight performances of the night. Winner of Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year – and the up and coming king of country – Luke Combs lit up the arena with energy during his performance of “Beer Never Broke My Heart”. Old Dominion has had an incredible year, between their headlining tour and release of their self-titled album. Before their win for Vocal Group of the Year, the band took the stage to perform an intimate version of their single “One Man Band”. The audience felt the emotion in the vocals and smooth guitar riffs, as the band played the moving song about a desire for human connection.
Back to the must-see duets, we loved the unique opportunity to see Female Artist of the Year Kacey Musgraves take the stage with legend Willie Nelson to perform an unforgettable duet of the classic Muppets Movie tune “Rainbow Connection”. This wasn’t the first time these two have collaborated, as fans remember Nelson’s appearance on Musgrave’s Pageant Material album. This touching performance between the two artists helped to close the memorable night.
The performances during the 53rd Annual CMA Awards were truly a sight to see and listen to.