Kacey Musgraves was in the winners’ circle at the 53rd annual CMA (Country Music Association) Awards at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena last night (13), securing her first Female Vocalist of the Year trophy as well as Music Video of the Year for ‘Rainbow.’
Musgraves and Willie Nelson performed the Muppets’ ‘Rainbow Connection’ at the event. ‘Rainbow’ comes from her Golden Hour release, which won Album of the Year at the 2018 CMAs. “Words can’t express just how meaningful and truly unbelievable this past couple years have been,” she said in her acceptance speech.
The CMAs were hosted by Carrie Underwood, with guest hosts Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton. The stars also sang ‘Those Memories of You,’ recorded by Parton recorded with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris on their 1987 Trio album.
The show also featured a medley of anthems of female empowerment featuring the Highwomen, Tanya Tucker, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Gretchen Wilson, Crystal Gayle, Terri Clark and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman. Additionally, Kelsea Ballerini performed her song ‘Homecoming Queen’ before being joined by Lindsay Ell, Runaway June, Maddie & Tae, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce and Little Big Town for a version of LBT’s ‘Girl Crush.’
The showpiece Entertainer of the Year award went to Garth Brooks, who took the title for a record seventh time. He first won the honour in 1991. Maren Morris, who had six nominations, won Album of the Year for Girl, paying tribute to her late producer busbee, who died in September. Luke Combs took the Male Vocalist of the Year title and Song of the Year for ‘Beautiful Crazy,’ one of his run of six consecutive No. 1 singles since the start of his stellar career.
Blake Shelton won Single of the Year for another of the songs that soundtracked the country year, ‘God’s Country,’ while Ashley McBryde was named New Artist of the Year. Dan + Shay, the duo of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, won Vocal Duo of the Year, their first CMA after winning three ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards earlier this year. Old Dominion took the CMA for Vocal Group of the Year for the second year in a row, having also won the corresponding ACM title this year.
Musical Event of the Year went to the megahit ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, all of 27 years after Cyrus won Single of the Year for ‘Achy Breaky Heart.’ The 2019 honour also gave country recognition to Trent Reznor, since the song features a banjo section from Nine Inch Nails’ ’34 Ghosts IV,’ from their 2008 album Ghosts I–IV. His previous connection to country came from Johnny Cash’s now-legendary version of NIN’s ‘Hurt,’ which won CMAs for single and video of the year.
Musician of the Year, which has been dominated by Mac McAnally, the winner in ten of the last 11 years, went to fiddle player Jenee Fleenor. On a celebratory night for many of the leading women in country, she became the first female winner of the title. Fleenor, who plays with Shelton and in the house band for The Voice, had said that when she was nominated, she broke down in tears.
Other collaborations among the live performances at the CMA spectacular included Pink and Chris Stapleton’s combination on Pink’s ‘Love Me Anyway.’ Dierks Bentley, Sheryl Crow, Chris Janson, Joe Walsh and John Osborne covered ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ in tribute to Kris Kristofferson, who won (in absentia) the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Lady Antebellum, Halsey and Jerry Douglas played Lady A’s ‘What If I Never Get Over You’ and Halsey’s ‘Graveyard,’ while Parton and Christian pop duo For King and Country performed ‘God Only Knows.’