NASHVILLE — The 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards aired Wednesday night live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, and it was full of showstopping moments.
In case you missed the show, here are the top five moments.
Beyonce brought down the house at the CMA Awards. The Texas native performed “Daddy Lessons” off her album “Lemonade” and was joined on stage by the Dixie Chicks. The country trio covered the song while on tour — and like Beyoncé — they’ve been the target of conservative critics for infusing politics into performances on occasion. Rumblings of a possible Beyoncé appearance at the show began early Wednesday after she was spotted around Nashville.
Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the evening for the ninth consecutive year as the CMA Awards marked its fifth decade. Their monologue is always highly topical and this year they got political. Paisley strummed the guitar while they poked fun at the election and sang: “We’re so freakin’ sick of politics, we don’t even care who wins.” Meanwhile, Underwood did not disappoint with her usual wardrobe changes. This time she had 11 glamorous ensembles.
Dolly Parton was honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and her “9 to 5” co-star Lily Tomlin was there to present her the award. In honor of the country legend, Jennifer Nettles and Pentatonix performed Parton’s hit, “Jolene.” But the crowd went wild when Reba McEntire sang Parton’s “9 to 5.” When Parton took the stage in a stunning yellow gown she had the crowd laughing when she said, “This was so touching. I would have cried but I didn’t want to mess up my eyelashes.”
Garth Brooks had quite a night. The country crooner took the stage for an epic performance with his wife, Trisha Yearwood. They performed a medley of hits including, “Jackson,” “Rose Garden,” and “Golden Ring.” Brooks even stole a kiss from his wife at the end. But the even bigger moment of the night was when Brooks took home the coveted Entertainer of the Year Award. Taylor Swift made her triumphant return to the CMA Awards to present Brooks with the award.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Randy Travis made a surprise appearance during the opening of the show. Paisley, Underwood and several of country music’s greatest lined the stage and began singing Travis’ hit song, “Forever and Ever.” Travis, who suffered a debilitating stroke three years ago, sang the final line and the crowd erupted into cheers.
As for the night’s winners, here’s the complete list:
Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks
Male Vocalist of the Year: Chris Stapleton
Musician of the Year: Dann Huff
Female Vocalist of the Year: Carrie Underwood
Pinnacle Award: Kenny Chesney
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
Vocal Duo of the Year: Brothers Osbourne
Album of the Year: Eric Church — “Mr. Misunderstood”
New Artist of the Year: Maren Morris
Song of the Year: Lori McKenna — “Humble and Kind”
Single of the Year: Thomas Rhett — “Die a Happy Man”
Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award: Dolly Parton
Music Video of the Year: Chris Stapleton and Tim Mattia — “Fire Away”
Musical Event of the Year: Dierks Bentley and Elle King — “Different for Girls”