NASHVILLE – At “The 47th Annual CMA Awards,” Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton made history as the first married couple to win top honors as CMA’s Female and Male Vocalists of the Year four years in a row; with George Strait securing victory in the coveted Entertainer of the Year category, which he last won in 1990.
“The 47th Annual CMA Awards” was hosted for the sixth consecutive year by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on the ABC Television Network.
With his third Entertainer of the Year Award, Strait tied Alabama and Alan Jackson with three career victories; Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney continue to lead the totals with four each.
His hand over his heart, Strait professed amazement. “Never in a million years!” he said, smiling. “Thank you so much to the CMA. I mean, this blows me away. I cannot believe it. With such powerful entertainers, I’m just thrilled to even be nominated again.”
Reflecting on the fact that this year marks his final tour, “The Cowboy Rides Away,” Strait mused, “I’m not totally quitting. I’m just slowing down a bit. But I don’t know, this gets me fired up a bit. Cowboy might be riding back in.”
Accepting her Female Vocalist of the Year Award, Lambert said, “Well, hell! I really didn’t think this was going to happen this year.” Then, smiling toward Shelton in the audience, she added, “To my husband, I love you. Thank you for putting up with my crap!”
With her victory, Lambert ties Reba for consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year wins with four.
Shelton reciprocated shortly afterward, noting, “Not to just echo Miranda, but I really swear I didn’t think this was going to happen this year. But it did!” He then thanked a long list of associates and friends, including “Tree Paine, my publicist, who is constantly cleaning up after me!”
This was Shelton’s fourth Male Vocalist of the Year Award, putting him one step behind Vince Gill and Strait, who lead in this category with five Awards each.
When announced as winner in the Album of the Year category for Based on a True Story (along with producer Scott Hendricks) Shelton joked, “My phone is blowing up all of a sudden. If there was one Award that would mean the most to me tonight, it would be Album of the Year.”
Hendricks, who had won once before for Album of the Year (Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles in 1994), added, “Thank you, God, for blessing me far beyond what I deserve.”
New Artist of the Year Kacey Musgraves thanked her family, singling one out for special appreciation. “My grandma’s in the audience tonight. She was my booking agent when I was 10 years old,” she said, with a smile. “She didn’t make me sign a contract or anything!”
It was also a good night for Florida Georgia Line. The first-time nominees won CMA Awards for Single of the Year and Vocal Duo of the Year.
Sean Combs joined Kellie Pickler to present the Vocal Group of the Year Award to Little Big Town, who quickly noted the unique experience of being called out by “Puffy and Pickle.” This marked the quartet’s second consecutive year as recipients of this distinction.
None of the Song of the Year nominees had won previously in this category. In accepting their Award for writing the Lee Brice hit “I Drive Your Truck,” Jimmy Yeary spoke for his co-writers Jessi Alexander and Connie Harrington in saying, “Jared Monti gave his life in Afghanistan for his battalion, and his dad today still drives his truck. We wrote this song about him, so thank you Jerry, for what you’ve done for this country.”
“I was 10-years-old when I first saw the CMAs,” Yeary added during a backstage press conference. ”And to be here, getting Song of the Year, is unbelievable for me. Connie Harrington cried the whole time we wrote this song; if she didn’t cry, we didn’t use the line.”
In the first of two special presentations, an assembly of stars – Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Strait, and Keith Urban – came to the stage. Each had at one time welcomed the then up-and-coming Taylor Swift to open for them on tour. Collectively, they presented her with the CMA Pinnacle Award, which honors artists who have achieved worldwide success and recognition that’s unique to Country Music.
Speaking emotionally, Swift said, “To the CMA, you’re not only rewarding my hard work and exhaustion, you’re also rewarding the hard work and exhaustion of my family and my label, and anyone who works with me and most of all the fans who fill the stadiums. I love you. On behalf of all of those people, thank you, thank you, I love you. You make me feel so special right now.”
Kenny Rogers, inducted this year into the Country Music Hall of Fame, was honored by performances of “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by Rascal Flatts and “The Gambler” by Darius Rucker before joining Jennifer Nettles in a performance of “Islands in the Stream.” Afterwards, on receiving the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award from Nettles, Rogers noted, “The Hall of Fame last week, and then this week. I can’t wait to see what next week brings!”
In presentations before the broadcast, Mac McAnally was named Musician of the Year. This was his sixth consecutive win in that category, tying the record set previously by Mark O’Connor.
“There’s a whole lot of people in the fine print of CDs and on the side of the stage, but I’m really proud to be one of them,” said McAnally. “Thank y’all and thank CMA for appreciating what we do.”
Earlier in the day, winners in two CMA Award categories were announced live on “Good Morning America” with McGraw, Swift, and Urban winning Musical Event and Music Video of the Year for “Highway Don’t Care.”
The Winners of “The 47th Annual CMA Awards”:
Entertainer of the Year
Female Vocalist of the Year
Male Vocalist of the Year
Vocal Group of the Year
Little Big Town
Vocal Duo of the Year
Florida Georgia Line
New Artist of the Year
Album of the Year
Based on a True Story
Produced by Scott Hendricks
Song of the Year
(Award goes to Songwriter(s))
“I Drive Your Truck”
Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary
Single of the Year
(Award goes to Artist and Producer(s))
Florida Georgia Line
Produced by Joey Moi
Musical Event of the Year
(Award goes to each Artist)
“Highway Don’t Care”
Tim McGraw (with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban)
Big Machine Records
Music Video of the Year
(Award goes to Artist and Director)
“Highway Don’t Care”
Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
Directed by Shane Drake
Musician of the Year
Mac McAnally (guitar)
For more information, visit CMAawards.com.