Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire hosted last night’s (Wednesday, November 13th) 53rd annual Country Music Awards, a history-making show celebrating country generally, and a half-century of female artistry specifically. The CMA’s broadcast live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, for the 12th year in a row. Viewers at home took in the spectacle on ABC at 8:00 pm EST.
Underwood, Parton and McEntire got the party rolling by opening the show with a medley built around country classics. Joining the powerhouse trio was Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, Martina McBride, Terri Clark, Sara Evans, Gretchen Wilson, Jennifer Nettles and the Highwomen — a group consisting of Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby and this year’s top nominee, Maren Morris.
Going in, Morris led the field with six nominations, including Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year, for 2019’s Girl. Three-time nominees this year are Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves, Luke Combs, Eric Church, Dan + Shay, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, and Underwood. Brooks took home Entertainer of the Year, and Morris took home Album of the Year.
The festivities kicked off Wednesday morning with a segment on Good Morning America, when Kacey Musgraves‘ “Rainbow” was named Music Video of the Year, and Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus‘ record-breaking remix of “Old Town Road” was named Musical Event of the Year. That honor also handed Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznorhis first CMA Award alongside YoungKio for production.
Parton, Underwood and McEntire balanced the feel-good girl power with appreciation for the great men of country too.
The ever-luminous and happy Loretta Lynn smiling in the audience epitomized country.
McEntire’s faux strip show for “Fancy.” She didn’t let us down.
The seamless melding of pop, rock and country (Halsey + Lady, Pink + Stapleton, et al).
Willie. Nelson. Rainbows.
Dan + Shay left us “Speechless.”
Miranda Lambert told us not to sweat it because “It All Comes Out in the Wash.”
McEntire celebrated this month’s 50th anniversary of the Bobbie Gentry classic “Fancy” by owning the song that she turned into a Top Ten hit in 1991.
Stapleton, who teamed with Justin Timberlake in 2015, sang with Pink on her current single “Love Me Anyway,” which she wrote with “The House That Built Me” songwriters Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin.
We went “Drinking Alone” with Underwood.
Combs explained “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”
Kelsea Ballerini dazzled as she sang “Homecoming Queen.”
First-time CMA performer Halsey and Lady Antebellum delivered a genre-blending mashup.
New Hall of Fame members Brooks & Dunn reprised their smash “Hard Workin’ Man” with Brothers Osborne.
Shelton reminded us all that we live in “God’s Country.”
Morris, who recently revealed she’s pregnant with a baby boy, brought it with “Girl.”
Parton teamed up with For King & Country, Zach Williams and the local Christ Church choir for a medley of “God Only Knows,” “There Was Jesus,” and “Faith.”
Sheryl Crow and Bentley sang a tribute to Kris Kristofferson‘s “Me and Bobby McGee.” Kristofferson, who wasn’t present, was honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Church sang “Some of It.”
Willie Nelson returned to the CMAs to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Rainbow Connection” with Musgraves
Entertainer of the Year nominee Garth Brooks joined Shelton on their nominated hit “Dive Bar”
Also performing were Keith Urban, Old Dominion, and Thomas Rhett.
Album of the Year: GIRL, Maren Morris
Musical Event of the Year: “Old Town Road (Remix),” Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
New Artist of the Year: Ashley McBryde
Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks
Single of the Year: “God's Country,” Blake Shelton
Song of the Year: “Beautiful Crazy,” Luke Combs, Wyatt B. Durrette III, Robert Williford (Luke Combs)
Female Vocalist of the Year: Kacey Musgraves
Male Vocalist of the Year: Luke Combs
Vocal Group of the Year: Old Dominion
Musician of the Year: Jenee Fleenor (Fiddle)
Music Video of the Year: “Rainbow,” Kacey Musgraves
Vocal Duo of the Year: Dan + Shay