For the second year in a row, the CMA Awards had a somber opening, this time in memory of those who died last week in the mass shooting at country night at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
“On behalf of our country music community, I want to say that tonight’s show is lovingly dedicated to the 12 individuals who we lost far too soon just a week ago tonight at the Borderline in Thousand Oaks, California,” Garth Brooks said, lights illuminating the arena behind him. “Tonight, let’s celebrate their lives.” A moment of silence followed.
Following Brooks’ tribute, Luke Bryan got the show going with a performance of “What Makes You Country,” featuring cameos from a handful of country friends.
Other amazing performances came from Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris and Mavis Staples, and Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, who joined recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs.
Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood came together for the 11th year in a row, doing one of their signature spoof songs before revealing that Underwood’s baby on the way is (another) boy!
Numerous stars who hit the stage found themselves starstruck by the presence of presenter Lionel Richie in the front row, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild included.
Dressed in a blue cape with a rainbow lining and accompanied by a choir, Underwood delivered a moving rendition of her new single “Love Wins,” which addresses, among other timely topics, gun violence.
Taking a cue from Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars, Paisley and Underwood handed out a Nashville staple — hot chicken! — to hungry members of the audience.
Paisley reminded the crowd that just days after the 2017 CMA Awards, Underwood took the tumble that changed her face and left her unable to sing as she healed. To make sure she didn’t suffer a similar fate this year, he gave her a “gift” — a dress made of bubble wrap.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna wear this,” Underwood deadpanned, but later did.
Kacey Musgraves took home the album of the year award for Golden Hour, the first female to win the prize since Miranda Lambert in 2014.
In her brief speech, she made the realization that she moved to Nashville 10 years ago today, Nov. 14.
During a performance of Garth Brooks’ never-before-heard love song “Stronger Than Me,” which he penned about his relationship with Trisha Yearwood, his wife of 13 years sat in the audience and started tearing up.
Toward the end of his performance, Brooks himself also shed a few tears as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Keith Urban nabbed Entertainer of the Year honors, thanking “baby girl” — a.k.a. wife Nicole Kidman — his daughters and his late dad.
“I thank you so much … I wish my dad was alive to see this but I think he’s watching over me tonight,” he said.
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