Recapping 50th CMA Awards!


The fiftieth annual CMA Awards show finished a short time ago. Read on for a recap of the night...

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Award winners (in the order they were presented)

  • Musical Event Of The Year - Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King, Different For Girls
  • Music Video Of The Year - Chris Stapleton, Fire Away
  • Musician Of The Year - Dan Huff
  • Single Of The Year  - Thomas Rhett, Die A Happy Man
  • Song Of The Year - Lori McKenna, Humble & Kind
  • New Artist Of The Year - Maren Morris
  • Album Of The Year - Eric Church, Mr Misunderstood
  • Vocal Duo Of The Year - Brothers Osborne
  • Vocal Group Of The Year - Little Big Town
  • Pinnacle Award - Kenny Chesney
  • Female Vocalist Of The Year - Carrie Underwood
  • Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award - Dolly Parton
  • Male Vocalist Of The Year - Chris Stapleton
  • Entertainer Of The Year - Garth Brooks
It is worth noting that the awards for Musical Event, Video And Musician Of The Year had been announced earlier in the day, meaning that Thomas Rhett's Single Of The Year win was the first broadcast on the live show.

One of the sweetest moments of the show came courtesy of Lori McKenna after her Song Of The Year win for Humble & Kind. The incredibly well respected song-writer was escorted to the stage by Tim McGraw and the award clearly meant a lot to her, despite it not being her first win in the category. The emotion was palpable throughout Lori's acceptance speech (to a point where close friend Faith Hill was seen to be crying) and the incredibly positive response on social networks showed the public's thoughts and support towards both Lori and the song itself. 

Something that will stick out for many people is the lack of both Miranda Lambert and Florida Georgia Line on the winner's list. Carrie Underwood's Female Vocalist win was certainly more expected than Brothers Osborne's Vocal Duo win however it was Carrie's first win in the category since 2008 and there seems to have been call every year since that she deserved to win again. Most people seem to have expected Florida Georgia Line to take home Vocal Duo again (certainly Brothers Osborne themselves seemed very surprised!) but considering their impressive rise and the strength of their album it is nice to see them receive the recognition.

Being the fiftieth year of the show, there was a lot of talk of honouring the legends of the genre and this gave the whole show a really lovely atmosphere behind it, with all past winners having been invited. This was frequently mentioned during acceptance speeches and you could tell what it meant to the newer country artists - perhaps best highlighted by the response from both those on the stage and those in the audience during Dolly Parton's Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech. The only unfortunate thing was that the producers seemed to frequently be cutting people off in their speeches after what seemed far too short a time. 

Little Big Town and Chris Stapleton were the only ones to retain their awards from last year (with Vocal Group Of The Year and Male Vocalist Of The Year respectively) and interestingly there were no run-away winners this year, with Chris Stapleton being the only artist to receive more than one award. From a fan's point of view I am particularly happy to see Eric, Lori and Little Big Town walk away with their respective awards and this is, in general, a very impressive list of winners, congrats to all! 

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Performances
  • Opening tribute from Vince Gill, Ben Haggard, Brad Paisley, Roy Clark, Carrie Underwood, Charley Pride, Alabama, Charlie Daniels, Reba, Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson and Randy Travis - Mama Tried, Tiger By The Tail, Stand By Your Man, Kiss An Angel Good Morning, Play Me Some Mountain Music, Devil Went Down To Georgia, Fancy, Guitars, Cadillacs, Hillbilly Music, Killin' Time, Country Boy, Don't Rock The Jukebox and Forever And Ever Amen
  • Kelsea Ballerini - Peter Pan
  • Brooks & Dunn and Jason Aldean - Brand New Man
  • Dierks Bentley and Elle King - Different For Girls
  • Maren Morris - My Church
  • Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood - country classics medley (including Rose Garden and Going To Jackson amongst others)
  • Carrie Underwood - Dirty Laundry
  • Little Big Town - Better Man
  • Miranda Lambert -  Vice
  • Tim McGraw - Humble & Kind
  • Alan Jackson and George Strait - Remember When and Troubadour
  • Keith Urban - Blue Ain't Your Colour
  • Dixie Chicks and Beyonce - Daddy's Lessons (including short clip of Long Time Gone)
  • Thomas Rhett - Die A Happy Man
  • Chris Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam - Seven Spanish Angels
  • Luke Bryan - Move
  • Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw - May We All
  • Eric Church and Rhiannon Giddons - Kill A Word
  • Dolly Parton tribute from Jennifer Nettles, Pentatonix, Reba McEntire, Kacey Musgraves, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood - Jolene, 9 to 5, Here You Come Again and I Will Always Love You
  • Brad Paisley - Today
In the lead up to the show it had been frequently suggested that the first few minutes was not to be missed and the opening tribute medley definitely lived up to the promise. A touching way to open the show in remembrance and celebration of country greats, the smooth transitions between songs and impressive vocals from the assembled artists creating a really strong moment, culminating with an incredibly emotional Forever And Ever Amen and a lot of people in tears as Randy Travis sang the last word.

This was not the only time older, classic country tracks were featured, one of the other instances being an incredibly impressive tribute to Dolly Parton as the penultimate performance. Featuring some of country's best current female vocalists - each at their strongest - the performance was made all the sweeter by Reba missing her cue as she was seemingly too busy smiling at Dolly. Ironically, it did feel a little like Carrie Underwood was a little overshadowed by the other artists, in particular having sung I Will Always Love You alongside Martina McBride but I know many will disagree with me.

It was announced just before the show started that Beyonce would take the stage to perform, with rumours quickly beginning to circulate that she would be joined by the Dixie Chicks. That proved true as they performed Beyonce's most country sounding track. Unfortunately the Dixie Chicks completely outshone Beyonce, which was particularly apparent in the short Long Time Gone section (being the more overtly country track of the two). Beyonce also didn't seem as comfortable as past collaborators from outside the country genre have come across and she was frequently calling for the audience to clap their hands - which just seemed odd.

The strongest performances of the night came from Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson & George Strait and Brad Paisley. Performing new single Better Man, Little Big Town's incredible harmonies were in full evidence as Karen lead the 'rootsy' sounding song that is the lead single from their upcoming new album. The group definitely proved that they are the strongest group within the genre at the moment, outstanding all round

Tim McGraw's performance of Humble & Kind was a moment that just called upon you to listen closely to the lyrics and really embrace the song. The set itself was well thought out and really contributed to the overall atmosphere, channelling the music video and cementing the thought-provoking nature of the track. Vocally Tim was without a doubt at his best as he moved comfortably through the track.Whilst Alan Jackson & George Strait blended two tracks (meaning each had slightly shorter on his own track) they didn't let that hinder the overall performance and both delivered very strong vocals that cemented the reasons why both are so respected within the genre. As the last performance of the night, Brad Paisley closed with a song that seemed very fitting as a montage of past CMA winners on the screens behind him became clips from the show itself as the 2016 winners were given their own awards. Pitched in a way that seemed to draw the whole audience in whether you were at home or in the arena itself, Brad's heartfelt vocal rounded out the relative simplicity of the track and was a great end to a brilliant show.

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Overall it was an incredible night full of a myriad of great performances and worthy winners. With a short clip of a past winner at the return from every ad-break, all past winners invited to attend and touching tribute performances it was also a fitting tribute to country artists and CMA winners throughout the ages. 

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood were once again on point in their hosting duties, with jokes about the US Presidential race, Peyton Manning and a 'basket of deplorables' amongst other things in their opening segment alongside a short performance of God Bless The USA alongside Lee Greenwood toward the end of the show which had the whole arena on their feet. I certainly hope we will see them return to host again next year, they continue to seem completely comfortable working together and did a great job. 

I may not always agree with all the winners and may sometimes prefer different performances but the CMA Awards as a whole continue to make me so proud to be a fan of such an amazing genre and to be a part of it in my own small way. Thank you to everyone involved in creating such a great night and congratulations again to all the winners! 

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