female did NOT win Entertainer of the Year winner at last night’s “54th Annual CMA Awards”. But Eric Church did, and you can’t feel bad about that. He’s the real deal and he earned it. Even his acceptance speech was interesting.
Maren Morris did represent. She took home three awards, which led the night. She won Female Vocalist of the Year, and her song “The Bones” won Single of the Year and Song of the Year.
Luke Combs also had a good night. He won Male Vocalist of the Year, and Album of the Year for “What You See Is What You Get”.
Talk about landing on your feet. Morgan Wallen shrugged off last spring’s arrest and last month’s “SNL” cancellation to take home New Artist of the Year. He also kept it real with an honest and simple performance of “More Than My Hometown”.
There were more last minute cancellations. An undisclosed Rascal Flatts band member, and someone in LADY A’s circle tested positive, so they stayed home. Add that to Lee Brice and Tyler Hubbard being quarantined, and so goes 2020.
But how did the “non-virtual thing” work out during the show? It was odd to see everyone sitting at banquet tables as if they were waiting for the bride and groom’s first dance. Fortunately, music is powerful, so the performances overcame that.
An all-star tribute to Charlie Daniels opened the show. Dierks Bentley got it rolling, and he was followed by Brothers Osborne, then Ashley McBryde, and then Jason Aldean. Charlie would have approved. Trust me.
Here’s where it did NOT work. Reba McEntire and Darius Rucke were tasked with hosting in front of a socially-distanced crowd and it never landed. Comedy feeds off energy and immediate feedback, and that was scarce. We’ll give them a pass.
Gabby Barrett had no problem performing in her third trimester. She teamed up with Charlie Puth for their version of “I Hope”, and it was solid.
We saw Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber perform “10,000 Hours” at an empty Hollywood Bowl. To balance that out there was Luke Combs in a Brooks & Dunn ballcap rocking through “Cold As You”.
I’d like to thank Jon Pardi for sounding AND looking country. Cowboy hat, boots, and the right amount of twang for his Joe Diffie tribute of “Pickup Man”. He had the audience up and dancing in the aisles.
Want another 2020 moment? Luckily, the Carly Pearce and Charles Kelley performance of “I Hope You’re Happy Now” was pre-taped, because Charles wasn’t at the show thanks to the Lady A cancellation. And he was filling in for the quarantined Lee Brice. Do you need a scorecard?
Jimmie Allen had the honor of presenting Charley Pride with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. He introduced the video tribute, and then Charley hit the stage to perform one of his biggest hits, “Kiss An Angel Good Morning”.
Little Big Town gave tribute to Kenny Rogers by performing his song “Sweet Music Man”, and Old Dominion honored the 40th anniversary of the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack with a version of Johnny Lee’s classic “Lookin’ for Love”.
(“Us Magazine” has a very good Best-Dressed list, as does Radio.com. And if sarcasm, raw language, and a grumpy attitude about today’s country music is your thing, Saving Country Music’s real-time blog has that in spades.)
Here’s your complete list of winners . . .
Entertainer of the Year: Eric Church
Male Vocalist of the Year: Luke Combs
Female Vocalist of the Year: Maren Morris
Vocal Duo of the Year: Dan + Shay
Vocal Group of the Year: Old Dominion
New Artist of the Year: Morgan Wallen
Album of the Year: “What You See Is What You Get”, Luke Combs
Song of the Year: “The Bones”, Maren Morris. It’s a songwriter’s award so she shares it with Jimmy Robbins, and Laura Veltz.
Single of the Year: “The Bones”, Maren Morris
Musical Event of the Year: “I Hope You’re Happy Now”, Lee Brice and Carly Pearce
Music Video of the Year: “Bluebird”, Miranda Lambert