NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — The 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards proved to be one of the most historic music events containing iconic country music legends, current chart breakers and future legends in the making. The stellar variety of singers, athletes, and actors in one place made it a dream event for this photojournalist to cover.
Broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, on the ABC Television Network this show was designed to entertain and educate, young and old on the history of Country Music. Set in Nashville, the mecca that has delivered a majority of these icons and preserves the roots of Country Music history and is the home of the Country Music Hall Of Fame.
Hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, the duo entertained the audiences with their opening skit beginning with their traditional opening, singing a self-penned ditty about being sick of the election and pleading, “Make it end!” After pointing out that all the biggest country artists were in attendance, the pair joked that Billy Ray Cyrus is locked away as their “designated survivor.” But as Underwood gave shout-outs to the stars, Paisley stalked Underwood on stage, a la Donald Trump, shouting “wrong” and “crooked Carrie.”
He went on to say “#ImWithHer”, called Underwood a “nasty woman,” and suggested the CMAs were “rigged.” Asked by Underwood if he’d accept the results of the night, Paisley said he would… “if I win.” (He’s not nominated.) Underwood then revealed everyone would go home with a “basket of deplorable’s.” There was also a WikiLeaks joke, a nod to Dolly Parton’s bosom, and Paisley acting like he’s the Brad, who recently split from Angelina Jolie. Quips followed about Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and there was even a cameo from Peyton Manning using the Allstate melody to joke between them.
This is Underwood and Paisley’s ninth year in a row hosting the CMAs. The two first debuted as co-hosts in 2008, and are approaching a record set by Vince Gill,
The night’s performances represented 50 years of Country Music’s most memorable and beloved songs and artists. Collaborations on stage were historical, eclectic and well planned.
Performances include: Alabama, Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Clint Black, Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood, Brooks & Dunn, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Roy Clark, 2016 CMA Country Music Hall of Fame inductees Charlie Daniels and Randy Travis, Florida Georgia Line, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Jennifer Nettles, Brad Paisley, Pentatonix, Charley Pride, Thomas Rhett, Reba, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Dwight Yoakam.
Appearances/presenters on Country Music’s Biggest Night were: the “Final Five” Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Aly Raisman; three-time CMA Award winner and Country Music Hall of Fame member Bill Anderson; 2016 CMA Awards nominee Cam; Josh Dallas, best known for his role of Prince Charming/David Nolan on ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”; Actress Jennifer Garner; three-time CMA Award winner Lee Greenwood; ESPN “College GameDay’s” Kirk Herbstreit; Country Music Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee; four-time CMA Award winner Barbara Mandrell; NFL Legend Peyton Manning; actor Matthew McConaughey; Wendi McLendon-Covey and Hayley Orrantia from ABC’s “The Goldbergs;” 1974 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Olivia Newton-John; two-time CMA Award winners and Country Music Hall of Fame members The Oak Ridge Boys; ESPN’s Samantha Ponder; actress Sharon Stone; 2016 CMA Awards nominee Cole Swindell; and actress Lily Tomlin.
Kenny Chesney was honored with the Pinnacle Award presented to him by Peyton Manning After giving a touching speech listing his friend’s accomplishments, Peyton gave an emotional Kenny the trophy, and an amazing montage played showing stars like Reese Witherspoon and Taylor Swift, 26, congratulating the 48-year-old.
The Pinnacle Award is rare and has only ever been given to Garth Brooks, in 2005, and Taylor Swift in 2013. It is meant to recognize an artist “who has achieved global prominence through concert performances and record sales at levels unique in country music. This artist has also attained the highest degree of recognition within the broad expanse of music worldwide. The artist’s talent and presence will have a long-term positive impact on the appreciation of Country Music for generations to come.”
Dolly Parton was honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Her longtime friend Lily Tomlin, who co-starred with the icon in the movie 9 to 5, presented the honor to Parton. “Dolly is country music,” Tomlin said from the stage, later adding, “Dolly helped build Nashville … and is a force of nature, and one of the greatest artists in the history of country music.”
Prior to Parton accepting the award, multiple artists performed covers of her hits in tribute. The medley started with Jennifer Nettles — who starred in Parton’s Coat of Many Colors TV movie — and Pentatonix performing “Jolene.” The a cappella backdrop was the perfect foundation for Nettles’ powerful voice, as she gave her all to the tenacious tune. Parton, who was sitting next to Vince Gill in the audience, nodded in approval throughout the tribute. She also sang along to the second performance, “9 to 5,” sung by Reba McEntire, who was sporting a long shimmering blue dress. The pairing was perfect.
Kacey Musgraves then strolled onstage to perform “Here You Come Again,” taking a delicate stab at the indelible ballad. This led into Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride entering to perform “I Will Always Love You,” which moved Parton to tears; Nettles, McEntire, and Musgraves joined to sing the song, which ended not with a giant flourish, but pinpoint five-part harmonies. McEntire concluded the tune, and gestured to Parton to show just how much people love her.
The legend herself, wearing an eye-popping yellow dress, then came onstage to make a speech. “Thanks to all these beautiful girlfriends of mine,” she said generously. “I would’ve cried, but I didn’t want to mess up my eyelashes; I was doing my best.”
After calling the award “such a great compliment,” Parton unleashed the zinger of the night: “For me to be receiving the Willie Nelson award, this is an absolute ‘high’ for me,” she said with a laugh and air quotes. “For Willie to have a high achievement award — I mean, how appropriate is that? He’s had some highs that border on historic, I can tell you that.”
The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2012 and recognizes “an iconic artist who has attained the highest degree of recognition in country music [and] who has achieved both national and international prominence and stature through concert performances, humanitarian efforts, philanthropy, record sales and public representation at the highest level.” Past recipients include Willie Nelson (2012), Kenny Rogers(2013) and Johnny Cash (2015).
CMA Award winners of the night did not disappoint either, Carrie Underwood and Maren Morris sobbed as they picked up their trophies for female vocalist and new artist, respectively. John Osborne wept when he accepted the prize for vocal duo of the year with his brother, TJ, who was trying not to cry. – L. Rode
“The 50th Annual CMA Awards” was a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton is the Executive Producer, Paul Miller provided direction and David Wild handled the writing.
Complete list of winners:
Entertainer of the year
Garth Brooks (winner)
Male vocalist of the year
Chris Stapleton (winner)
Female vocalist of the year
Carrie Underwood (winner)
New artist of the year
Maren Morris (winner)
Album of the year
Dierks Bentley, “Black”
Eric Church, “Mr. Misunderstood” (winner)
Maren Morris, “Hero”
Keith Urban, “Ripcord”
Carrie Underwood, “Storyteller”
Single of the year
“Record Year,” Eric Church
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“My Church,” Maren Morris
“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett (winner)
“Nobody to Blame,” Chris Stapleton
Song of the year
“Burning House,” Cam (written by Camaron Ochs, Tyler Johnson, Jeff Bhasker)
“Record Year,” Eric Church (written by Eric Church and Jeff Hyde)
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw (written by Lori McKenna) (winner)
“My Church,” Maren Morris (written by Busbee and Maren Morris)
“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett (written by Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett and Joe Spargur)
Vocal group of the year
Little Big Town (winner)
Zac Brown Band
Vocal duo of the year
Brothers Osborne (winner)
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Joey + Rory
Maddie & Tae
Musical event of the year
“Different For Girls,” Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King (winner)
“Home Alone Tonight,” Luke Bryan feat. Karen Fairchild
“The Fighter,” Keith Urban feat. Carrie Underwood
“Think of You,” Chris Young with Cassadee Pope
“You Are My Sunshine,” Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton
Music video of the year
“Burning House,” Cam
“Fire Away,” Chris Stapleton (winner)
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“Record Year,” Eric Church
“Somewhere on a Beach,” Dierks Bentley