There were surprising wins, staggering musical performances, a moment of silence and even a baby gender reveal during the 52nd annual CMA Awards. Here are a few of the moments we’ll remember.
Keith Urban is ‘shocked’ to win
There were a few surprising wins at the 2018 CMA Awards, but no winner was more surprised than Keith Urban — whose eyes widened as he was named Entertainer of the Year.
As a nominee, Urban is a fixture of the CMAs’ most coveted category, but he’s only won the award once before, back in 2005. After giving his wife, Nicole Kidman, a long hug, he made his way to the stage.
“I’m shocked beyond shocked,” Urban said, wiping away tears. He dedicated the win to Kidman (whom he called “Baby Girl”) and their two children. There was a long list of team members to shout out, as well.
“I have so many people to thank. I wish I had more time to do it right now…above all, God, I thank you so much for the blessings of this. I wish my dad was alive to see this, but I think he’s watching over me tonight.”
After the show, Urban said the win was an “indescribable feeling.”
“I started playing guitar when I was six,” Urban said. “I came up playing in the clubs, four hours a night, five hours a night, five nights a week. I wasn’t writing songs, I was just schlepping my gear and doing cover tunes and learning my craft. To get to play three or four hours a night of original tunes is the most extraordinary feeling. For me, the spirit of commonality is really what’s at the center of our concerts. It’s finding that thing we all have in common, and for me right now there’s never been a more important time. There’s so many differences … but the feeling of inclusiveness and finding all those things we have in common is the real center spirit of our concerts.”
Mavis Staples steals the show
R&B legend Mavis Staples stole the show at the CMA Awards on Wednesday night.
The 79-year-old vocal powerhouse shared the stage with Chris Stapleton, Morgane Stapleton, Maren Morris, Marty Stuart and Dave Cobb for a soulful performance of “Friendship,” which Chris Stapleton recorded for “From A Room: Vol. 2.”
As Staples began her verse, a roar arose from the crowd and Morgane Stapleton and Stuart couldn’t keep grins from spreading across their faces.
Staples then led the singers and a gospel choir in the Staple Singers’ 1972 classic “I’ll Take You There,” ending it with a throaty “Mercy” as the Bridgestone Arena crowd gave the performers a standing ovation.
“To have Maren and Mavis and Marty and my wife up there, that’s a real treat,” Stapleton said after the show. “And Mavis, in particular, we all owe her so much musically. She’s electricity in a bottle, and she’s so inspiring to be around as a person and a musician and a singer. And if we can use some of our time to put her front and center, that’s exactly what we need to be doing.”
Ricky Skaggs’ epic bluegrass jam
Country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs was officially inducted into the Hall in late October along with posthumous inductees Johnny Gimble and Dottie West.
During the CMA Awards on Wednesday night, a star-studded lineup performed some of his best-known songs.
First Skaggs led his bluegrass band Kentucky Thunder through a breakneck rendition of “Black Eyed Suzie,” then joined Keith Urban and John Osborne for “Highway 40 Blues,” a Larry Cordle song Skaggs took to the top of the charts in 1983.
Trading his mandolin for an acoustic guitar, Skaggs joined Marty Stuart, Brad Paisley and bluegrass phenoms Sierra Hull (on mandolin), Justin Moses (playing banjo) and fiddle player Carson Peters for a scorching take on his No. 1 “Country Boy” filled with dazzling solos.
The performance got a well-deserved standing ovation, and we get the feeling there wouldn’t have been any complaints if the three-song tribute continued for the rest of the night.
Garth’s emotional tribute to Trisha
Garth Brooks played his wife, Trisha Yearwood, a brand-new song all about her — with the rest of the country music world watching.
The country superstar debuted “Stronger Than Me” during the CMA Awards on Wednesday night. The tender acoustic ballad was all about the ways Yearwood is the stronger half in their 13-year marriage.
“Every now and then she just wants me to hold her/ oh, but that don’t mean she’s weak,” Brooks sang.
“The fact you’re unafraid to let your feelings show just means you’re stronger than me.”
He was clearly emotional as he reached the final verse of the song, with Yearwood watching in the front row.
“I’d give her anything in life that’s mine to give her, till the last breath that I breathe/ If I have a choice, I pray God takes me first, because she’s stronger than me.”
Kacey Musgraves’ cosmic moment
Ten years — to the day — after she moved to Nashville, Kacey Musgraves stood on stage in Nashville and accepted her first-ever CMA Award for Album of the Year.
“This is really, really crazy timing,” she told the audience. “… It sounds like a lie. Ten years ago today, I moved to Nashville. That’s so crazy.”
She was joined by the album’s co-producers (and “co-pilots”) Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian.
“We poured everything that we have into this, and I’m so proud of it. It’s inspired by this beautiful universe, all of you, and just most of all, love.”
A somber and celebratory opening
The 2018 CMA Awards began with Garth Brooks asking the sold-out crowd to join him in a moment of silence for the victims of last week’s Thousand Oaks mass shooting,
Then Luke Bryan launched into his song “What Makes You Country” with some of his pals including Luke Combs, Cole Swindell, Lindsay Ell,Chris Janson, Ashley McBryde, and Jon Pardi.
“Let’s do what we do and let’s be proud of what makes us country tonight,” said Bryan, 42.
“When we began talking about this performance I thought this would be a perfect time to share the stage with a few deserving artists who may not otherwise have an opportunity to be a part of the show,” said Bryan in a press release on Monday. “This genre is full of talented performers doing what makes them country and this is the perfect song to let them step in the spotlight to be seen and heard by the millions tuning in.”
‘It’s a Willie!’
It’s tough to take any part of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s annual CMA Awards monologue seriously, but we’re not sure Underwood was joking when she finally relented to Paisley’s questions about the gender of her second child.
With husband Mike Fisher sitting in the audience at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, Underwood kept deflecting Paisley’s inquiries. Paisley famously revealed the gender of Underwood’s first child by accident at the 2014 CMA Awards.
“Seriously, Carrie, give me a little baby hint,” he said.
“It’s not gonna happen,” she revealed. “I’m not making the same mistake twice.”
“Johnny or June? Keith or Nicole? Garth or Trisha?”
Finally, Paisley phrased the question through another country, er, couple.
“Waylon or Willie,” he asked, referring to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
Underwood, apparently, gave up.
“Oh my gosh! Willie! It’s a Willie!”
Paisley gasped, and tweeted with the hashtag #CarrieBlewIt, referencing the hashtag he inspired in 2014.
Underwood and Fisher had their first son, Isaiah, in 2015. She revealed she was expecting her second child in August.
Backstage, Underwood got emotional when talking about her oldest having a baby brother as well as being a working mom.
“I’m a working mom and a working wife, the same as all the other ones out there,” she said. “My job is kind of weird. You just figure your way through it. We ladies are good at that. I’m honored to get to hold some pretty incredible titles, and mom is definitely one of them. I’m just excited they get to see their mom do that, see me be on stage. Hopefully, I can be an inspiration to my children and to other working moms out there because we’ve got this.”
CMA AWARDS 2018: Stars salute country legend Ricky Skaggs
CMA AWARDS 2018: Kacey Musgraves wins Album of the Year for ‘Golden Hour’
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