Keith Urban has won the prestigious Entertainer of the Year title at the 52nd annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, held last night (14) at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. There were also major wins for such country heavyweights as Chris Stapleton (who had three wins, from five nominations), Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs and Kacey Musgraves.
Again hosted by Underwood and Brad Paisley, the ceremony was notable for the absence of politically-charged speeches and themes. It opened with Garth Brooks leading a moment of silence for the 12 people killed in a country bar in Southern California last week, before Luke Bryan led a star-filled performance of ‘What Makes You Country.’
The pregnant Underwood, who revealed during the show that her baby will be a boy, sang ‘Love Wins,’ from her current Cry Pretty album. Other performances included Midland’s ‘East Bound and Down,’ from the Smokey and the Bandit movie and dedicated to the late Burt Reynolds, while Brooks sang a new song for his wife Trisha Yearwood.
The closing sequence included Stapleton, Maren Morris and soul doyenne Mavis Staples sharing the lead vocals on ‘Friendship,’ from Stapleton’s From A Room, Volume 2, accompanied by Marty Stuart, before they sang the Staple Singers’ R&B classic ‘I’ll Take You There.’
Urban won his previous Entertainer of the Year award as long ago as 2005; Brooks had taken the title for the last two years. “God, I thank you so much for the blessing of this,” said Urban in his acceptance speech. “I wish my dad was alive to see this, but I think he’s watching over me tonight…God bless country music. God bless you all.”
Stapleton took home the Male Vocalist of the Year accolade for the fourth year in a row. He was also honoured for Song of the Year and Single of the Year, both for ‘Broken Halos,’ written by the artist with Mike Henderson, produced with Dave Cobb and featured on Stapleton’s previous, 2017 album From A Room: Volume 1.
Underwood’s success in the Female Artist category was her fifth: she won the award in three consecutive years between 2006 and 2008 and again, after six wins in a row for Miranda Lambert, in 2016. Lambert won the award for a seventh time last year.
North Carolina native Luke Combs confirmed his status as one of country’s biggest new names of recent years with the New Artist of the Year award. His 2017 album This One’s For You is certified platinum in the US and yielded four No. 1 singles.
Musgraves’ fourth major label album Golden Hour, which she produced with Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, was named Album of the Year to become her fourth CMA Award. She won New Artist in 2013, Song of the Year for ‘Follow Your Arrow’ in 2014 and the International Achievement title last year.
The Vocal Group of the Year title went to Old Dominion, who beat Lady Antebellum, LANCO, Little Big Town and Midland to the prize. Brothers Osborne were named Vocal Duo of the Year for the third year in a row, and David Lee Murphy’s duet with Kenny Chesney, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,’ was Musical Event of the Year.
Thomas Rhett won the second CMA Award of his career, taking Video of the Year with ‘Marry Me,’ and Mac McAnally won his tenth Musician of the Year trophy, which he has now won, remarkably, every year but one since 2008.
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