As the dust settled on the 57th annual CMA Awards Wednesday evening (Nov. 8), Lainey Wilson and Jelly Roll were fully cemented as two of country music’s brightest stars of the moment.
Wilson pulled a surprise win for entertainer of the year, becoming the first woman to take home the coveted EOY win since Taylor Swift in 2011; her ascendance from last year’s new artist of the year win to this year’s EOY win is also the fastest in CMA Awards history by any artist since Garth Brooks. Wilson, who opened shows on Luke Combs’ tour this past year and is slated to open for Morgan Wallen’s tour in 2024, also bested both of them to take home the entertainer of the year win. She picked up four additional trophies this year, including album of the year (Bell Bottom Country), female vocalist of the year, and musical event and music video of the year (the latter two for her “Wait in the Truck” collaboration with HARDY).
Meanwhile, in his first year as a CMA Awards nominee, Jelly Roll won new artist of the year, and gave one of the evening’s most inspirational speeches.
Meanwhile, the performances throughout the evening highlighted the breadth of the genre’s sonic landscape, from Cody Johnson’s tender, traditional-minded rendition of “The Painter” to Jelly Roll’s rock-threaded brand of country to the raw, soulful sounds of Chris Stapleton and The War and Treaty.
Collaborations are a highly anticipated portion of any awards show, and this year’s CMAs didn’t disappoint. Jelly Roll teamed with K. Michelle for the night’s closing performance, and welcomed surprise guest Wynonna on his opening performance of “Need a Favor.” Meanwhile, the late Jimmy Buffett was lauded by Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band and longtime Coral Reefer Band member Mac McAnally. Morgan Wallen welcomed surprise guest Eric Church for a collaboration, and later in the show teamed with HARDY and Post Malone in tribute to the late Joe Diffie. Chris Stapleton teamed with Carly Pearce, while Old Dominion partnered with Megan Moroney for a performance.
Here, we rank the evening’s performances.
Luke Bryan Celebrates 16 Years of Hits
Two-time CMA entertainer of the year Luke Bryan offered up a medley of hits he’s amassed over the course of 16 years in the spotlight. “Huntin,’ Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” “One Margarita” and “That’s My Kind of Night,” “Play It Again,” “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).”
Bryan was clearly having fun with the performance, and the crowd seemed to love revisiting these hits. However, given just how closely associated these songs are with the bro-country era that dominated the past decade — and given how much the sonic preferences in country music have seemed to change over the past few years — this performance ended up feeling dated.
Jelly Roll and Wynonna Give the Show a Soulful Start
The 57th annual CMA Awards got a surprise right out of the gate with a performance from Jelly Roll.
In a bold move, the telecast started out with Jelly Roll’s unaccompanied vocal on “Need a Favor,” quickly joined by a choir –and an extra shot of commanding soul thanks to guest artist Wynonna.
But despite the star power and the prime performance spot, the performance was awkward, as Wy stood rigid in the center of the stage, latching onto Jelly Roll’s shoulder and staring at the ground. Fans quickly began expressing concern for Wynonna online and she responded with an Instagram video later in the evening, telling fans, “I’m just gonna come clean with y’all. I was so freaking nervous,” Judd said. “I got out there and I looked at Jelly Roll. I wanted it to be so good for him. I could cry right now, but I’m not going to because I’m such a fan of his and he asked me to sing and I said, ‘Absolutely!’ I got out there and I was so nervous that I just held on for dear life. And that’s the bottom line.”
Vocally, the duo soared, their rock edges blending perfectly as they sang of faith, desperation and redemption, ending with the heady mix of the smooth choir and Wy’s signature soulful growl.
Morgan Wallen With Eric Church on “Man Made a Bar”
Eric Church was a surprise performer of the night, joining Wallen for “Man Made a Bar” from Wallen’s One Thing at a Time album. The song centers on finding post-breakup refuge in a bar’s hazy atmosphere and free-flowing libations. Church and Wallen sounded fine on this performance, but its understated nature didn’t quite stand up to some of the evening’s other powerhouse moments.
Though Wallen performed twice during the CMA Awards and was nominated in key categories including male vocalist of the year, entertainer of the year and album of the year, he went home empty-handed.
Morgan Wallen, Post Malone and HARDY Honor “Pickup Man” Joe Diffie
When singer-songwriter Joe Diffie died in early 2020, he left behind some of ’90s country music’s most enduring songs — “Home,” “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock From the Sun,” “Bigger Than the Beatles” and more.
During the 2023 CMAs, a multi-genre collaboration brought together Post Malone, Morgan Wallen and HARDY to honor the late artist. Diffie earned three CMA Awards nominations (including one win) during his career.
CMA Awards host Luke Bryan and Joe Diffie’s son Parker Diffie introduced the tribute, revealing that the songs performed will be included on HARDY’s Hixtape Volume 3: Difftape, which arrives March 29.
Wallen and HARDY launched with Diffie’s 1993 hit “John Deere Green.” Their voices may not have been pitch perfect at every second of the performance, but it was clear they were having a blast taking on a childhood favorite before a packed arena crowd.
Post Malone, who will perform during the 2024 Stagecoach Music Festival, has previously delved into country, posting a cover of Brad Paisley’s “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)” and Hank Williams’ “There’s a Tear in My Beer.” He joined Wallen and HARDY for Diffie’s 1994 hit “Pickup Man,” offering up a solid take on the song.
Old Dominion, Megan Moroney Light Up the Stage on “Can’t Break Up Now”
Old Dominion and “Tennessee Orange” hitmaker Megan Moroney teamed up to perform their radio single “Can’t Break Up Now.” Moroney was splendid in a sparkling white gown and matching boots, which cut a stark contrast to OD lead singer Matthew Ramsey’s dark-hued outfit. Moroney and Ramsey stood face-to-face as they sang of the yin-and-yang of a near-breakup. Ramsey brought swagger to his performance and though Moroney seemed slightly nervous at times, their harmonies were sturdy.
Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton on “We Don’t Fight Anymore”
Duets abounded during this year’s CMA Awards, including Pearce and Stapleton’s ballad “We Don’t Fight Anymore.” Stapleton stayed in the background on the main stage for a fair portion of the performance, as the camera stayed focused on Pearce, though his megawatt voice shone through mightily during the performance. When they came together for the second half of the song and melded harmonies, it made for a gloriously moody performance.
Luke Combs Shares “Where The Wild Things Are”
Luke Combs offered up a fine performance of “Where the Wild Things Are” from his CMA album of the year-nominated Gettin’ Old. The song is about watching a brother move West to South California and fall in love with the Joshua Tree desert and buy an Airstream trailer and a J-45 guitar.
Though artists do introduce new music on the CMAs, given the runaway success of “Fast Car” (and the song’s two wins that evening), it would have made for a stunning performance if Combs had used his slot for that inescapable hit.
Jordan Davis Gets a Moment in the Spotlight With “Next Thing You Know”
Jordan Davis has steadily built up a quality catalog of songs over the past few years, including last year’s CMA song of the year winner, “Buy Dirt,” and his breakthrough hits “Singles You Up” and “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot.”
“Next Thing You Know” is another excellent entry and was up for single of the year and song of the year during the 2023 CMA Awards. Davis didn’t take home a win, but he did get a great moment in the spotlight, as he performed the song on a satellite stage in the middle of the Bridgestone Arena crowd. Cell phone lights were swaying across the arena as Davis and his band performed the tender love song, which traces the decades-long arc of a loving relationship. It also showcased Davis’ easygoing, charismatic performance style.
Dan + Shay Bring Rafter-Reaching Vocal Power With “Save Me The Trouble”
After navigating a difficult past couple of years as a duo, Dan + Shay came out on top with their latest album, Bigger Houses. They returned to the CMAs stage to perform “Save Me The Trouble.” Shay Mooney’s voice was pristine and it is clear the duo is rejuvenated — Dan Smyers’ harmonies are as tight as ever. This was a classic D+S performance.
Cody Johnson Brings His Cowboy Country to the CMA Stage
Cody Johnson performed the fiddle-laden, tender romantic track “The Painter,” a song dedicated to his wife Brandi. Clad in jeans, a jacket and white hat, Johnson offered a straightforward, earnest rendition, a throwback to classic CMA performances that focused more on singing than pyrotechnics. Behind him, a backdrop offered a stunning accompaniment to his song, as the black-and-white screen slowly gained shades of vivid color as the song progressed.
Johnson was nominated for male vocalist of the year during the ceremony, and “The Painter” is included on his new album Leather.
Tanya Tucker Gets Her Flowers
Newly minted Country Music Hall of Fame member Tanya Tucker was feted during the CMAs, as Little Big Town used their glorious harmonies to perform a stunning a cappella rendition of Tucker’s 1972 debut hit “Delta Dawn.”
A vintage clip of Johnny Cash introducing a teenage Tucker was screened following LBT’s performance, before Tucker, joined by harmonica master Charlie McCoy, took the stage to perform “Delta Dawn” while gleaming in a black ensemble.
The moment was one of the show’s highlights, showcasing the enduring strength of Tucker’s prowess as a performer, as well as her timeless music.
Tucker was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October, alongside Patty Loveless (who was also in the CMA Awards audience) and songwriter Bob McDill.
Kelsea Ballerini Gets Hopeful on “Leave Me Again”
Nine months after dropping her album Rolling Up the Welcome Mat in February (and a deluxe version, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat (For Good) in August), Ballerini used her CMA Awards performance to highlight healing with the return-to-truest-self ballad “Leave Me Again.”
Ballerini has long displayed her masterful ability to take even the biggest stages and make them seem like intimate, living room performances thanks to her bold vulnerability. She did the same with this one, singing solo and playing her acoustic guitar as a spotlight shone on her.
“For a while the shoe fit, but then I outgrew it,” she sang, her voice veering from sweet to sharp on the line, “I hope that you get the house, and the good wife, and the kids.”
Though Rolling Up the Welcome Mat didn’t take home an album of the year win, the LP does have some of the strongest songwriting of her career, and she highlighted that with this performance.
Ashley McBryde Shines a “Light” on Heartfelt Wisdom
Superb vocalist, entertainer and songwriter Ashley McBryde performed “Light On in the Kitchen” from her CMA album of the year-nominated project The Devil I Know.
Surrounded by hanging lamps on a homey stage that gave off kitchen vibes, McBryde’s knowing voice was strong and relatable as she sang of the lasting love and friendship of loved ones — those you can go to no matter what time of the day or night. She earned a standing ovation from the crowd.
Jackson, Chesney Lead an All-Star Tribute to Jimmy Buffett
An all-star set of performers gathered to pay tribute to the late Jimmy Buffett, who died Sept. 1 at age 76. Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band and Mac McAnally were reflective and joyous as they performed several of Buffett’s timeless hits.
Chesney and McAnally began with Buffett’s clear-eyed “A Pirate Looks at Forty.” “Jimmy made a whole world full of friends,” McAnally said. “Thank you, Jimmy!” Chesney added.
From there, the main stage opened up, as Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band performed together on Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” Jackson’s first notes immediately drew applause, as the screen behind Jackson and Brown flashed an assortment of photos of Buffett in concert, as well as candid shots of Buffett with Brown, Jackson and Chesney.
Each of the artists paying tribute during the show have their own musical bonds with Buffett. McAnally has a long history as a member of Buffett’s The Coral Reefer Band; Jackson, of course, had a hit collaboration with Buffett on the 2003 country duet “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”; Chesney remade “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season” with Buffett in 2018; and Buffett appeared on Zac Brown Band’s 2011 song “Knee Deep.”
The War and Treaty Offer Power and Passion
Husband-and-wife duo The War And Treaty earned their first CMA Award nomination for vocal duo of the year, and they brought genuine, passionate soul to the stage with the ballad “That’s How Love is Made.” Clad in complementary red-and-black outfits, their voices were perfect foils, his gritty tenor blending with her mighty soprano.
Holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes, their deep love for performing — and for each other — was undeniable. Their performance instantly brought the crowd to its feet. Luke Combs raised his ubiquitous red cup in praise, while Jelly Roll pointed to The War and Treaty as he clapped and grinned.
Their performance on the ABC-televised awards show should bring The War and Treaty’s talents to even broader audiences.
Lainey Wilson Gives a Victorious Performance of “Wildflowers and Wild Horses”
The year’s leading nominee with nine nods, Wilson was a two-time winner before the ceremony even began, winning musical event of the year and music video of the year, both for “Wait in the Truck” with HARDY. By the end of the night, she was the evening’s biggest winner, taking home five wins, including an upset victory in the album of the year (for Bell Bottom Country) and entertainer of the year categories.
For her CMA Awards performance, Wilson staked her claim as country music’s current hottest star. She offered a dramatic performance of “Wildflowers and Wild Horse” from her album Bell Bottom Country. “I’m barefoot and bareback and born tough as nails,” she sang. The description fits: Wilson has undeniably been one of the hardest-working, and most visible, artists over the past year, thanks to collabs with HARDY and Jelly Roll as well as her own “Heart Like a Truck,” plus a stint on Yellowstone and a deal with Wrangler.
Performing on a stage decked out to resemble a circle of barbed wire and open fields under menacing skies, Wilson’s performance was confident, dramatic and commanding, showcasing just why her career has skyrocketed over the past year.
The determination flashing in Wilson’s eyes was soon matched by the flames that lit up the barbed wire circle she stood under, creating a flaming halo around her — a moment that undoubtedly brought back memories of another fiery CMA Awards star-cementing moment, when Miranda Lambert took the CMA stage as a newbie artist in 2005 and danced among the flames herself.
Chris Stapleton Brings Careening Rock With “White Horse”
Stapleton brought the raw rock of “White Horse” to the CMA Awards stage alongside his wife Morgane Stapleton.
Stapleton is known for his classic rendering of “Tennessee Whiskey” and his soulful “Starting Over,” but “White Horse” has quickly become one of his best-loved songs. His voice was firing on all cylinders with this performance, and the cameras captured Keith Urban, Jelly Roll, Carly Pearce and more rocking out.
Jelly Roll, K. Michelle Wrap CMA Awards With Inspirational Tribute to The Judds
This year’s CMAs were filled with inspiring moments: Lainey Wilson collecting the lion’s share of wins, Tracy Chapman earning a CMA trophy for “Fast Car” and Jelly Roll taking home new artist of the year.
So it felt suitable that the show ended with Jelly Roll joining forces with K. Michelle to perform a hope-filled hit from The Judds, “Love Can Build a Bridge.” Both offered up admirable, earnest vocals, but the song reached its zenith when it became a vehicle for Michelle’s towering, heartfelt vocals.
Jelly Roll, Michelle and The Fisk Jubilee Singers all performed the song as part of the recently released project A Tribute to The Judds.
Source From: www.billboard.com
- GPT Studio Review – The World #1 Real Open AI Connected WordPress Software That Auto Creates Set & Forget Websites!
- ScriptioAI Review – The First To Market and ONLY Tool To Combine The Power Of Google Bard, Microsoft, & ChatGPT To Create Digital Marketing Assets With Ease!
- Zeus Review – The Brand New Set & Forget AI-Powered App Turning TikTok Into A $483/Day Viral Traffic Machine!
- Ink Buddy AI Review – The First To Market AI-Powered App Creates Fully Customized Ebooks, Flipbooks & Other Info Products From A Single Keyword Without Writing A Single Word Or Doing Anything Yourself!
- ResponseKraft Review – The World’s First A.I. App Exploiting Thread, Twitter and Quora And Hijack 2,567 Clicks Daily For 100% Free!