50th CMA Awards Recap

CMA Award Winners 2016: Complete List

11/2/2016 by Billboard Staff

Carrie Underwood accepts and award onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.

The 50th annual CMA Awards have all been handed out!

Garth Brooks was the night's biggest winner, taking home entertainer of the year from surprise presenter Taylor Swift, but he was hardly the night's only champ. See below for the full list:

Entertainer of the Year:
WINNER: Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood
Keith Urban
Tim McGraw
WINNER: Chris Stapleton

Female Vocalist of the Year:
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
WINNER: Carrie Underwood

Vocal Group of the Year:
Lady Antebellum
WINNER: Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Album of the Year:
Black — Dierks Bentley
WINNER: Mr. Misunderstood — Eric Church
Ripcord — Keith Urban
Storyteller — Carrie Underwood
Hero — Maren Morris

New Artist of the Year:
Kelsea Ballerini
Brothers Osborne
WINNER: Maren Morris
Old Dominion
Cole Swindell

Song of the Year:
“Burning House” — Cam, Tyler Johnson and Jeff Bhasker
“Die a Happy Man” — Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett and Joe Spargur
WINNER: “Humble and Kind” — Lori McKenna
“My Church” — Busbee and Maren Morris
“Record Year” — Eric Church and Jeff Hyde

Single of the Year:
WINNER: “Die a Happy Man” — Thomas Rhett
“Humble and Kind” — Tim McGraw
“My Church” — Maren Morris
“Record Year” — Eric Church
"Nobody to Blame" — Chris Stapleton

Musical Event of the Year:
WINNER: “Different For Girls” — Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King
“Home Alone Tonight” — Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild
“The Fighter” — Keith Urban (featuring Carrie Underwood)
“Think of You” — Chris Young (duet with Cassadee Pope)
“You Are My Sunshine” — Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton

Musician of the Year:
Jerry Douglas (dobro/lap steel guitar)
Paul Franklin (steel guitar)
WINNER: Dann Huff (guitar)
Brent Mason (guitar)
Derek Wells (guitar)

Music Video of the Year:
“Burning House” — Cam; directed by Trey Fanjoy
WINNER: “Fire Away” — Chris Stapleton; directed by Tim Mattia
“Humble and Kind” — Tim McGraw; directed by Wes Edwards
“Record Year” — Eric Church; directed by John Peets and Reid Long
“Somewhere on a Beach” — Dierks Bentley; directed by Wes Edwards

CMA Awards 2016: Beyonce and Dixie Chicks Shine, Kenny Chesney and Garth Brooks Win Big

11/3/2016 by Chuck Dauphin

Garth Brooks accepts Entertainer of the Year award onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.

The 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards proved to be both a celebration of the past twelve months in country music, but also a fond look back at the history of the genre, with a diverse mix of today’s stars, the all-time legends, and yes, Beyonce, in a guest role. In fact, the show was so packed with talent that it went 20 minutes over -- a rarity for the ABC broadcast.

The evening ended with a return to the top by entertainer of the year Garth Brooks -- who won the prize four times in the 1990s. “I want to thank the CMAs. This is very, very sweet,” Brooks said. “We are so damned lucky to be part of this thing called country music,” tipping his hat to the audience. His win in the category extended his record in the category to five wins -- 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998 and now 2016. 

It was also a big night for Carrie Underwood, who walked away the female vocalist of the year award, breaking a six-year winning streak by Miranda Lambert.Underwood won her first female vocalist in eight years -- and fourth overall. 

The show started with a montage of some of the most historic moments in CMA Awards past, ranging from Minnie Pearl to Garth Brooks to Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift, before segueing into a salute to many of the artists who made country history. Vince Gill and Ben Haggard, son of the late Merle, paid tribute to the late singer with a performance of “Mama Tried,” a No. 1 Billboard hit from 1968. 

Brad Paisley and Roy Clark -- the 1973 entertainer of the year winner -- delivered a tribute to Clark’s “Hee Haw” co-host Buck Owens, while Paisley’s co-host, Carrie Underwood, paid homage to Tammy Wynette with a soaring delivery on “Stand By Your Man.”

Charley Pride, the big winner from the 1971 show, took viewers back in time with “Kiss An Angel Good Morning,” and Alabama -- the first three-time entertainer of the year winners from 1982-84, delivered a rousing take on “Mountain Music.” Both Pride and Alabama are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and they were joined on stage by new inductee Charlie Daniels

Reba McEntire -- one of only a handful of female vocalists to be named as entertainer of the year (1986) -- brought the crowd to life with a portion of her hit “Fancy.”

Other performers in the opening sequence included Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black, Alan Jackson, and Ricky Skaggs, who showed his guitar prowess to be much the same that it was in 1985, when he was named entertainer of the year. The opening slot ended with Underwood and Paisley leading the crowd with Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever, Amen.” Travis was on stage, and delivered the final note of the 1987 single of the year. 

In their opening monologue, the show’s hosts poked fun at the long and winding election season, with Paisley humorously saying “The awards are rigged,” and calling Underwood a “nasty woman.” 

In addition to celebrating the heritage of the show, there were new winners to be presented. The first winner was Thomas Rhett, who claimed the single of the year award for “Die A Happy Man.” In his remarks, he credited his wife for being the inspiration behind the song’s lyrics. Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” netted tunesmith Lori McKenna a trophy for song of the year. It was her second straight win in the category, having been one of three writers of last year’s winner, “Girl Crush.” 

Little Big Town, who recorded last year’s song of the year, repeated in the vocal group of the year field, winning their fifth straight such award. The incredible career streak of Chris Stapleton continued into 2016, with his second straight win as male vocalist of the year. The night was also one to remember for Maren Morris – who walked off with the new artist of the year prize – after not even being at the show in 2015. “Last year, I sat across the street in a bar and watched this show,” she said. “I never thought as a songwriter, I’d be standing here today.” Eric Church won album of the year for Mr. Misunderstood, and quipped to the audience “I don’t know what’s better, winning this award or having Faith Hill fixing my tie,” after the presenter straightened his bowtie. 

There were a couple of special award presentations. Longtime friend Peyton Manning presented Kenny Chesney with the Pinnacle Award, presented for only the third time in history. “Standing up here in this spot tonight, looking out at a lot of friends and heroes that have touched my life in so many ways. Your music, and your songs showed me it was possible...I want to thank the CMA for such an unbelievable honor. When I think about what this means to me, it means connection with a lot of people that have invested a lot of their life in my music and what we do. To those fans out there, who we call ‘No Shoes Nation,’ I want to thank you for allowing me and my band and my road family to hold your lives in the palm of our hand for a little while...Thanks for giving me an amazing life.”

Another artist who continues to have an amazing career is Chesney’s fellow East Tennessean, Dolly Parton. The Country Music Hall of Famer added to her impressive resume with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award after being saluted in song by Jennifer Nettles and Pentatonix (“Jolene”), McEntire (“9 To 5”), and Kacey Musgraves (“Here You Come Again”), as well as by Martina McBride and Underwood on “I Will Always Love You.” The always-quotable Parton was good for a few during her speech, quipping “I would cry, but I didn’t want to mess up my eyelashes. For me to be receiving the Willie Nelson Award is a absolute….high for me…..He’s had some highs that border on historic.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Brothers Osborne’s win for vocal duo of the year, dethroning Florida Georgia Line after a three-year run. “New artists out there, don’t give up. If we can do it, you can do it,” said the duo’s John Osborne in their acceptance remarks. 

In awards presented earlier in the day on Good Morning AmericaDierks Bentleyand Elle King nabbed the musical event of the year for “Different For Girls,” and Chris Stapleton won the Video of the Year trophy for “Fire Away.” Presented off-camera during the night was the musician of the year honor, which went to Dann Huff, his first win in the category since 2004. 

Performance-wise, the highlights of the show included Morris’ out-of-the-ballpark version of her hit “My Church,” which took on a decidedly bluesy version with The McCrary Sisters and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Kelsea Ballerini’s shimmering version of her No. 1 hit “Peter Pan,” which included two dancers -- first on stage, then flying in the air -- to set the tone of the song.

Carrie Underwood – whose Storyteller tour has been one of the biggest box-office draws this year -- showed her stage moxie with an attitude-laden version of her current single, “Dirty Laundry.” Little Big Town showcased their airtight harmonies on their new single, “Better Man,” which was written by Taylor Swift. McGraw powered his way through an emotional rendering of “Humble and Kind,” one of the night’s big winners. Keith Urban, whose Ripcord disc has been one of the format’s brightest albums of 2016, gave a definite retro feel to his “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”  

Several of the performers opted to go a classic route with the Silver Anniversary theme. Jason Aldean teamed up with Brooks and Dunn for “Brand New Man,” the song that launched the duo’s career in 1991. Husband and wife Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood scored with their tribute to legendary duets Johnny Cash and June Carter, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and George Jones and Tammy Wynette -- who ironically never won a CMA vocal duet trophy together. Their performance also included nods to Lynn Anderson, Roger Miller, and Keith Whitley. Paisley teamed with the Oak Ridge Boys for a bit of “Elvira” that continued in the packed Bridgestone Arena even after ABC went to commercial break. Alan Jackson and George Strait paired up for a medley of their hits, including “Remember When” (which included clips of past acceptance speeches by Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Wynette among others) and “Troubadour.” Chris Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam paid tribute to the genre-shattering pairing of Willie Nelson and Ray Charles on “Seven Spanish Angels.”

And, there was Beyonce. All of Nashville was abuzz earlier today with news that the pop icon would be performing on the show, and indeed she did – collaborating with the Dixie Chicks on a bopping performance of her “Daddy Lessons,” which the 2000 entertainer of the year winners performed on their latest tour, garnering was to be one of many standing ovations during the night.

Deborah Evans Price contributed to this report.

Here Are All the 2016 CMA Awards Performances Ranked Worst to Best

11/3/2016 by Natalie Weiner

Beyoncé performs at the 50th annual Country Music Awards on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn. 

The 2016 CMA Awards -- the 50th edition of the awards show -- drew the best of the best: every living entertainer of the year winner was present, alongside all today’s hottest up-and-coming artists. The awards themselves were special, but, particularly given the star-studded crowd, the performances were history-making.

From Chris Stapleton to Alan Jackson to Beyoncé, here are the evening’s performances in order of how ready they made us to hit the after-hoedown.

19. Luke Bryan
Just days after the song hit no. 1 on Country Airplay, Luke Bryan performed his sexy single “Move” (sporting fittingly tight pants) in front of an architectural, illuminated set.

18. Brad Paisley
Host Brad Paisley capped off the night with an acoustic performance of his newest single “Today” in front of a history-laden CMAs montage.'

17. Tim McGraw
Backed only by a montage of different anonymous figures of all nationalities, Tim McGraw performed “Humble and Kind,” his 2016 breakthrough single. 

16. Thomas Rhett
After winning Single of the Year for “Die A Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett performed the six-week Country Airplay no. 1 for the crowd in a blacked-out Bridgestone Arena -- illuminated almost exclusively by cell phones.

15. Dierks Bentley & Elle King
Dierks Bentley was joined by the bluesy Elle King to perform their hit duet “Different for Girls” -- King, sporting a marching band-inspired ensemble complete with fringe, went full country with banjo in hand. Dimmed lights meant cellphones in the air, completing the ballad.

Maren Morris performs onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.

14. Florida Georgia Line & Tim McGraw
Florida Georgia Line, who had a pretty quiet evening, were joined by Tim McGraw to perform the trio’s single “May We All” -- it was mellow, but solid.

13. Brooks & Dunn and Jason Aldean
Brooks & Dunn were joined by Jason Aldean to perform their 1991 debut single “Brand New Man” -- the trio offered a little old-school rock and bravado to the proceedings, earning a standing ovation.

12. Little Big Town
Little Big Town showed off their new single (penned by none other than Taylor Swift) “Better Man” in the midst of a faux-field: not only was the backdrop big sky country, the stage itself was covered in (presumably faux) grasses and shrubs. The group went full power ballad, showcasing their trademark harmonies (and a little bit of banjo).

11. Keith Urban
Nominated for three CMA awards, Keith Urban went home empty-handed -- but not before sharing a predictably sweet performance of his current single “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” The string section and spare, blue-lit set said Kanye, but the romantic track was all Keith, who sang to Nicole Kidman, seated in the front row. 

10. Carrie Underwood
Backed by an appropriately post-apocalyptic setting (think red lights and scaffolding) along with an all-woman band, Carrie Underwood performed her single “Dirty Laundry” in a fittingly bedraggled outfit. Underwood went rock with this rendition, and it worked: guitar solo, pyrotechnics and all.

9. Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea Ballerini performed her latest radio chart-topper “Peter Pan” in front of a fitting night-sky background, complete with full moon and “clouds” (copious smoke machines). A couple did an interpretive dance routine in the background, including aerials -- including the man flying away at the song’s conclusion. Ballerini, dressed in a dusty rose gown (made all the more impressive by the wind machine), offered a flawless rendition of the brutally honest track.

8. Alan Jackson & George Strait
Alan Jackson and George Strait joined forces for an extraordinary performance of Jackson’s 2003 single “Remember When” -- straight-forward, classic and a great reminder of the kind of songwriting that country music is all about.

7. Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert brought down the house with a rendition of her single “Vice,” giving it an old-school twist with a classic red velvet curtain and full band (complete with organ!). Sporting a suit and acoustic guitar, Lambert offered a powerful, evocative performance. 

6. Chris Stapleton & Dwight Yoakam
Powerhouses Chris Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam (alongside Stapleton’s wife Morgane) shared a beautiful tribute to Ray Charles and Willie Nelson with a performance of the latter pair’s 1984 single “Seven Spanish Angels.” Complete with mariachi-ready brass, the duo did justice to Charles and Nelson -- a rare feat.

5. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood
The legends got their due during Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s medley of classic duets  -- from “Jackson” to “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” to “Golden Ring,” the seemingly ageless couple brought down the house with hit after hit, wrapping things up (naturally) with a smooch.


4. Maren Morris
One of the evening’s standouts (and the best new artist winner) Maren Morrisbrought along the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the McCrary Sisters to perform her hit “My Church.” Turning the stage into a dimly lit (and enviably hip) club complete with about a thousand bare Edison bulbs, Maren slayed her performance, stretching out vocally to show off her range (and soul) on the irresistible track.

3. Superstar Opening Medley
The show got off to a star-studded start with a medley of country hits spanning the full 50 years of the Country Music Association -- from Charley Pride coming onstage to share his hit “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” to Reba McEntire performing “Fancy” to Alan Jackson offering “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” the production was seamless and nostalgic without ever getting bogged down. The two most touching moments? Fittingly, the beginning -- a tribute to Merle Haggard with Vince Gill and Merle’s son Ben performing “Mama Tried” -- and the end, a celebration of Randy Travis featuring the legend alongside the cast of the whole medley singing “Forever and Ever, Amen.”

2. Dolly Parton Tribute
Dolly Parton inspired a heartfelt, all-star tribute for her Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award: Jennifer Nettles and Pentatonix for “Jolene,” an emotional Reba McEntire for “9 to 5,” Kacey Musgraves for “Here You Come Again,” and finally Carrie UnderwoodMartina McBride and everyone else who performed for “I Will Always Love You” -- even Dolly herself was crying.

1. Beyonce & Dixie Chicks
The last-minute announcement that Beyonce would be performing at the CMA Awards sent the internet into a tizzy -- but, it being Queen B, the hype was more than warranted. Looking resplendent and surrounded by the long-exiled Dixie Chicks, the superstar performed Lemonade album cut “Daddy Lessons” with a full band (brass, a dancing bari sax player, and strings included) and distinctly Houston-meets-New Orleans swagger. She was smiling, dancing -- loose but still somehow polished. It was impossible to look away from, but more importantly, a reminder that country music’s roots look little like its present.

Here Are the 10 Best & Worst Moments of the 2016 CMA Awards

11/3/2016 by Taylor Weatherby

Erika Goldring/FilmMagic

Kacey Musgraves, Reba McEntire and Jennifer Nettles perform for Dolly Parton onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.  

That's a wrap on the 2016 Country Music Association Awards. The always star-studded CMAs brought out the genre's biggest names, especially so on the night that Nashville's Bridgestone Arena was filled with CMA winners from the past 50 years.

And while a room chock-full of country stars doesn't seem like one that would result in some ridiculous moments, but like any awards show, of course, the CMAs resulted in a little bit of ludicrosity (hello, Billy Ray Cyrus?). Here's what turned out to be the best and worst moments of country's biggest night.



CMA Award Winners 2016: Complete List


Kacey Musgraves, Reba McEntire and Jennifer Nettles perform for Dolly Parton onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.  



Brad’s shots at Donald Trump

Before the election jokes got a little old, Brad Paisley filled part of his first exchange with co-host Carrie Underwood with classic Trump remarks like "This show is rigged,” "Only if I win” and "You’re a nasty woman.” It was a rather sly way to poke fun at the presidential candidate’s controversial ways.

Peyton Manning’s cameo

As Underwood and Paisley scanned the crowd during their opening monologue, they began singing words to the tune of the Nationwide Insurance jingle only to point out spokesman Peyton Manning in the audience. And when the hosts asked if the retired NFL quarterback’s favorite country singer was one of them, he replied (still in the Nationwide melody, of course): "No it’s not, it’s Kenny Chesney.” Classic.

Matthew McConaughey bringing back ‘alright alright alright’

Another notable cameo occurred during the introduction of Tim McGraw’s "Humble and Kind” performance, in which McConaughey unsurprisingly brought out his star-making Dazed & Confused line. Again, classic. 

Brothers Osborne’s ‘I can’t believe this’ acceptance speech

When the real-life bros of Brothers Osborne were announced as the vocal duo of the year (an award they lost to fellow 2016 nominees Florida Georgia Line in 2015), they couldn’t believe they had actually won -- and their “oh my God”-filled acceptance speech showed that in the most genuine way possible. But John Osborne ending it with a massive "WOOOO!” was the kicker.

The Dixie Chicks show up for Bey’s performance

OK, obviously everyone was thrilled over the surprise news of Beyonce performing at the CMAs (especially the superstars in attendance), but the fact that it became a duet with her and the Dixie Chicks -- who covered “Daddy Issues” on their own tour -- was everything. Oh, and they broke into the Dixie Chicks jam “Long Time Gone” during the bridge, as if the moment weren’t flawless enough already. She owned the VMAs, so why not do the same at the CMAs, right?

Reba McEntire’s starstruck flub during her part of the Dolly Parton tribute

In the middle of singing “9 to 5,” Reba caught the eye of the woman of the hour and couldn’t quite keep it together. "I saw Dolly and I got messed up.” Oh, Reba.


The election song

The show was extremely front-loaded with election jokes, but perhaps the worst one was the first. Underwood and Paisley sang a song about this year’s never-ending election, singing “The election is taking forever and ever” so much that you’d think there’s a hilarious end to it. Nope, just “make it end."

Trying to make the “Mrs. Yearwood” thing happen

When Underwood first made the joke when pointing out country power couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood in the crowd, it was cutely funny... even though the look on Yearwood’s face read, “I’ve never heard that joke before.” But with another attempt from Paisley later on, the joke felt as overdone as Yearwood’s expression insinuated.

Billy Ray Cyrus "in the basement"

Making a rather past-due appearance in Underwood and Paisley’s opener (it’s been how long since “Achy Breaky Heart” was a thing?), Cyrus pretended to be in a basement that was seemingly plugging his low-life show Still The King (as well as the awards show network ABC's own Designated Survivor). Luckily, he only made two appearances, but it was still too much for anyone’s enjoyment.

That awkward moment during the female vocalist of the year announcement

As Vince Gill was naming the nominees for the coveted award, the camera cut to Kelsea Ballerini apparently a little too early, because even she didn’t know what to do for the ridiculously long amount of time the camera spent on her face, as her song “Peter Pan" played in the background. The same awkwardness occurred as Miranda Lambert was called, but luckily the glitch was fixed before more could ensue.