We all knew that the 50th annual CMA Awards were going to be huge, and it did not disappoint. As promised, the opening 8-10 minutes were epic. It was a sprinkling of all of your favorites of days gone by, and heavy hitters from today. My absolute favorite moment of the entire show had to be when all of those who were participating in the opening gathered around Randy Travis, and sang his "Forever & Ever, Amen," song--but turned the final "Amen" over to him--and he nailed it! I know I wasn't alone with tears rolling down my face on that. It absolutely was the best moment of the entire show.
In case you missed that part, you can view it here.
Collaborations seemed to be a magical part of the mix for the program. Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood did not disappoint either with their medley of country classics. I rather enjoyed during the entire night how photos from CMA Awards of the past were flashed up on the big screens throughout performances. It was a beautiful way to tie the past 50 years together. When Brad Paisley performed his new tune, "Today," with photos scrolling behind him, it was a heartfelt tribute too. And by the way, if that performance doesn't remind everyone that he is more than worthy of being nominated again for more awards himself, then I don't know what would. It frosts me every year to see that he is not nominated for anything. NOTHING! He's an amazing musician, who can pierce your heart with his lyrics and make tears of joy or heartache flow. Hopefully, this will be rectified in the near future of voting on this award show.
My favorite winners of the night had to be Brothers Osborne. I am a member of the CMA, so I was able to vote. You bet your butt I voted for them to win "Vocal Duo of the Year," but like the brothers, I too was shocked and surprised to see them finally unseat Florida-Georgia Line for the honor. I was cheering loud and proud in my living room for them. I'm so glad we were able to bring them in to perform at the Cavalier Theater last year. It was a fantastic night, and made their victory last night even sweeter.
I LOVED that Carrie Underwood had an all-female band performing with her for "Dirty Laundry." I was feeling rather empowered while watching that, and while it was probably not my favorite performance of hers--mostly because it's not my favorite song, she still showcased her amazing pipes... and legs. It's hard NOT to like Carrie. She's definitely a true gem for our format.
I have to admit that I never realized prior to Tim McGraw winning Song of the Year with "Humble & Kind," that songwriter, Lori McKenna actually wrote the majority of the lyrics intended as a prayer for five kids. You can read more on how the song came together here.
The collaboration between Alan Jackson and George Strait was fantastic. I loved the way that they melded Alan's "Remember When," with George's "Troubadour." It was a great nod to where we've come and how lucky we are to have artists that we love from years ago still cranking out music that moves us. I'm sure some new artists are hoping to have that kind of staying power in their own careers. If I'm still alive in 50 years, it will be interesting to see the 100th annual CMA awards and see what kind of production they do to honor the artist from today.
Probably the most divisive moment of the show was the performance of pop artist, Beyonce with the Dixie Chicks. First--I have to say it was brilliant to pair them up. Purists were already railing against having Queen B on the program, but then when she was paired up with the Dixie Chicks, you would think that there was a satanic ritual going on, based upon the vitriol being spewed on social media. If you were one of those who was downright pissed over that performance, I must ask you to step back and take a moment to understand that you're not going to love EVERYTHING in life. That's part of what makes this big, old, goofy world spin. I would recommend that if you are still bitter about the Dixie Chicks and their statements made way back when about George W. Bush, you might want to try something that I do. I'll admit that I was not happy when they said what they did all of those years ago, but this isn't about politics. It's about music, and I have always enjoyed the Dixie Chicks' harmonies and musicianship. Much like I do on social media, when I see something that I disagree with, rather than start a bitter war with a friend that I adore for reasons beyond politics, I ignore whatever her opinion is on that particular thing. Her friendship means way more to me than one thing that we disagree upon. This world is filled with far too many easily butt-hurt people. Don't be one of those overly sensitive types; you're better than that, and you'll miss out on a lot of really neat things by limiting your view or circle of friends.
There were plenty of people who actually enjoyed the performance, and you while you're entitled to your opinion--you don't need to crucify those who disagree with you. Quite frankly, we have enough of that going on with this political season. So you didn't care for Beyonce's outfit. I hear ya. It's not exactly something that I would've chosen to wear, even if I was rail thin. But are you blind to not see that there have always been racy outfits even on the CMA awards by those who are in the format? Even last night--Kacey Musgraves had on a very deep v-necked and SHORT dress (see photo below with Dolly Parton). Or Taylor Swift when she came out to present the Entertainer of the Year award. Skin to win has always been an issue in recent history, and you are absolutely entitled to be appalled at it, but please don't act like Beyonce is the first performer to ever show more boob than you've ever seen on national television. Taste and modesty have been endangered species for quite some time now.
Onto other collaborations... thoroughly enjoyed the Chris Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam duet on the Willie Nelson and Ray Charles "Seven Spanish Angels". That was probably the most soulful performance of the night, and it definitely proved why Stapleton picked up the Male Vocalist of the Year award.
Loved seeing Vince Gill present the Female Vocalist award to Carrie Underwood--and to be honest, I was thrilled to see Carrie win it. Vince Gill makes me happy, because his voice; whether he's singing or just talking, it melts my heart. He's another jewel of country music, and I expect that we will be seeing him honored in the future, much as we did Dolly Parton last night with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Which by the way, that tribute to Dolly prior to her being presented with the award was amazing and her acceptance speech (as expected) did not disappoint. The only thing that would've made it better was to give her all of the time she needed to make her speech. It would've been golden. Shame on the CMAs for not building in enough time to allow her to say it as she intended.
Garth Brooks winning the Entertainer of the Year was a perfect ending to the 50th annual CMA Awards. The biggest artist from the 90s taking home the biggest hardware of the night in 2016 shows that both the industry and the fan base are craving what made the 90s so spectacular for country music. Combine that with a resurgence in the throw-back sound that is Chris Stapleton and Maren Morris, I think our format is poised to make a sweeping change in a direction that is bound to please everyone. At least we can hope.