The 46th Annual CMA Awards is country music’s biggest night and this year’s show proved to be bigger than ever. Two artists took home their first-ever CMA honors in major categories, the Red Headed Stranger himself was honored with an all-star tribute and no one was more shocked to hear Entertainer of the Year announced than the winner himself. In no particular order, here are our Top 10 Moments from this year’s CMA Awards:
Blake Shelton – Blake was the night’s big winner. Not only did he pick up Male Vocalist of the Year for the third year in a row as well as Song of the Year for “Over You” with wife Miranda Lambert, he was also named Entertainer of the Year. No one was more surprised than Blake when Reba called his name. After an emotional hug and exchange with Miranda, he took the stage to accept his award in a state of awe.
“Entertainer of the Year? What are you talking about?” Blake said. “When I moved to Nashville in 1994 I had two goals. One was to someday have a gold record and one was to someday be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Entertainer of the Year was… What is this? I don’t even know. I don’t know how this happened. I freaking love it, though.”
Miranda Lambert – Miranda Lambert not only picked up Song of the Year for “Over You” alongside husband Blake Shelton, she was also named Female Vocalist of the Year for the third year running. “Holy crap — I don’t necessarily deserve this, but I’ll sure take it,” she said as she graciously accepted her award. She then personally thanked her fellow nominees, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Martina McBride, individually and ended with a promise to continue representing the genre and paving the way for female artists.
Little Big Town – Little Big Town has been nominated for at least one CMA Award every year since their first nomination in 2006 and all walked away empty-handed. This year, they won not one but two awards, picking up Single of the Year for their smash hit “Pontoon” as well as Vocal Group of the Year. “This has been a 13-year journey,” Kimberly Schlapman said while accepting Vocal Group of the Year. “We’re living proof that if you work really really hard and chase your dreams, all the good stuff happens and it follows you,” Karen Fairchild added.
Eric Church – After years of trying to find where he belongs on the music scene, Eric Church found a place to call home when his Chief album picked up Album of the Year honors, marking Eric’s first CMA Award. ”I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where I fit in,” he said, fighting back emotions as he accepted his award. “Too country, too rock… I wanna thank you guys for giving me somewhere to hang my hat tonight.”
Hurricane Sandy – The CMA Awards didn’t forget our friends and family along the East Coast who were affected by Hurricane Sandy earlier this week. The show opened with Jason Aldean dedicating the night to hurricane victims and in true country music form, fans and stars alike were encouraged to support relief efforts throughout the show. Brad Paisley also paid tribute by giving shout outs to New York and New Jersey during his performance of “Southern Comfort Zone” which included a sampling of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.”
Kelly Clarkson Vince Gill – In the words of Carrie Underwood, an Idol and an icon took the stage together for one of the night’s top performances. The pair performed “Don’t Rush,” Kelly’s new single just released to country radio. She teased the performance all week as well as documented how nervous she was to take the stage alongside Vince.
“So if by chance I completely freeze tomorrow while singing with Vince Freaking Gill on the CMA’s y’all will have to forgive me ….I’m so nervous,” she wrote on her Facebook page the night before the CMA Awards. “I am not blind to the fact that I’m extremely lucky to share the stage with him and I might start uncontrollably laughing on stage because I’m so happy!”
Tim McGraw Faith Hill – Tim and Faith made their presence known both together and solo during the show. Tim debuted his new single, “One of Those Nights,” from his upcoming album while Faith also performed a new single, “American Heart.” They later took the stage together to perform “Good-Hearted Woman” during a tribute to Willie Nelson.
Willie Nelson Tribute – Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw paid tribute to the one and only Willie Nelson with medley of his songs including “You Were Always On My Mind” and “Crazy” by Lady Antebellum, “Whiskey River” by Blake and Keith and “Good-Hearted Woman” by Tim and Faith. Willie then joined them onstage for a sing-along of “On The Road Again.” Willie was presented with the first ever Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award by Brad Paisley to which he quipped, “How many pushups can you do with that one?”
Brad Paisley Carrie Underwood – Brad and Carrie returned as co-hosts for a fifth straight year and were anything but boring. The pair opened with their now-traditional parody song, this year going with “Moves Like Haggard,” a nod to Maroon 5′s “Moves Like Jagger,” before launching into a monologue that covered Taylor Swift’s relationship with Conor Kennedy, Jennifer Nettles’ pregnancy and the definition of ‘Motorboatin.’ The pair also embraced the latest dance craze, Gangnam Style.
Collaborations – There are always collaborations only seen on the CMA Awards and this year’s show was no exception. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Eric Church took the stage together to open the show with a rocking rendition of “The Only Way I Know,” a song that appears on Jason’s new album, Night Train. Later in the show, Keith Urban recruited Zac Brown to join him for “Georgia Woods,” a song found on Keith’s 2010 Get Closer album. The pair showed off their elite guitar skills and shared vocals on the track.