The enduring influence of Loretta Lynn and Alan Jackson was celebrated at the 56th Annual CMA Awards at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, on a night that included wins for Chris Stapleton, Brothers Osborne, and double victories for Luke Combs, Cody Johnson, and Lainey Wilson.
“Country Music’s Biggest Night” was hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, and featured multiple tributes to Lynn, who died aged 90 in October. Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, and Carrie Underwood opened the event with a medley of her classic songs including “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” and “You’re Looking At Country.” The night would conclude with those three country superstars singing Lynn’s signature “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Lynn’s incomparable contribution was further marked as Carly Pearce spoke of being inspired by her, before being joined by Musician of the Year winner Jenee Fleenor, Sonya Isaacs, and Ricky Skaggs to perform Pearce’s original song, “Dear Miss Loretta.”
Jackson delighted the audience by performing one of his own much-loved hits, “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” and Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Lainey Wilson, and Underwood paid tribute to Jackson as winner of the 2022 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award by singing Jackson’s “Remember When,” “Chattahoochee,” “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” and “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”
Combs won the coveted Entertainer of the Year title for the second year in a row, also taking Album of the Year with Growin’ Up. Wilson became both New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year, becoming only the third artist, after Alison Krauss and Underwood, to win both trophies in a single year. Johnson was also a double winner with both Single and Video of the Year for “’Til You Can’t.”
Stapleton, named Male Vocalist of the Year, is now the fifth most-awarded artist in the history of the awards, behind only Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Jackson and George Strait. He now also has the most wins in the that category. Brothers Osborne took Vocal Duo and Old Dominion were Vocal Group of the Year. The Musical Event award went to Pearce and Ashley McBryde’s “Never Wanted To Be That Girl.” The Song of the Year was “Buy Dirt,” Jordan Davis’ country No.1, written by Jacob Davis, Jordan Davis, Josh Jenkins, and Matt Jenkins.
As announced in advance, one-off performance collaborations included Brothers Osborne being joined by the War And Treaty to deliver their newly-recorded version of the Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It).” Stapleton and Patty Loveless offered a stirring rendition of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” while McBryde welcomed friends Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack, Pillbox Patti, and John Osborne for a powerhouse take on “When Will I Be Loved.”
Kelsea Ballerini, Kelly Clarkson and Pearce performed their new song “You’re Drunk, Go Home,” while Thomas Rhett and Katy Perry joined forces on their current single “Where We Started” and Lainey Wilson and Hardy reprised their collaboration “Wait in the Truck.”
Also taking to the stage during the evening were Bryan, Combs, Johnson, Elle King, Marcus King, Jo Dee Messina, Cole Swindell, the Black Keys, Morgan Wallen, and Zac Brown Band. Many of the evening’s biggest performances are now available on YouTube, and the full show on Hulu.