CMA 2016 Live Blog

Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks
Male Vocalist: Chris Stapleton
Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood
Vocal Group: Little Big Town
Album: Eric Church, Mr. Misunderstood
Vocal Duo: Brothers Osbourne
New Artist: Maren Morris
Song: “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna
Single: Thomas Rhett, “Die a Happy Man”
Music Video: Chris Stapleton, “Fire Away”
Musical Event: Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King, “Different for Girls”
Musician: Dann Huff

10:36 Yes, thank so much Ben and to the CU readers! It was a fun night with some particularly bright moments. -TS

10:30 That was a good show! Thanks to those who read and commented and, of course, a big thank you to Ben for doing the hard work and running the blog! – LW

10:26 I’m sad for Carrie, because I do think she deserved it, but my nostalgic heart is happy for Garth too. – LW

10:23 Great show, though! Have a great night everyone! Thanks, Ben, for running this live blog! – KJC

10:23 That’s a good comparison, Kevin. That felt oddly anti-climactic. -TS

10:22 Remember the wave of euphoria that swept the room when George Strait won in 2013? Where was that just now? Felt like the energy left the room. – KJC

10:21 I am legitimately disappointed by that. – JK

10:21 Oh well…I like Garth too. At least it wasn’t Luke Bryan. But an Underwood victory would have been such a perfect finish to this night. – BF

10:20 Wow, I really thought Carrie was going to take this. – TS

Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks

10:17 Finally Taylor Swift arrives to present Entertainer of the Year.

10:13 Brad Paisley performing “Today”. – BF

10:13 I pity the fools who will have to try to top last year’s and this year’s CMA shows next year! – LW

10:10 Love Garth Brooks, but he looks like a guest star on How to Get Away With Murder in these Target ads. – KJC

10:10 Chris Stapleton, humble as ever, with my favorite acceptance speech of the night. – TS

10:10 They’re really spreading the wealth this year. Thus far, Stapleton’s the only multiple winner… – JK

10:08 Wow! Chris Stapleton again! Hurray! – LW

Male Vocalist of the Year: Chris Stapleton

10:05 I adore Dolly. I adore Dolly’s corny jokes! She’s joy personified!!! – LW

10:05 Dolly…there are no words. – BF

10:03 And Dolly’s delighted reaction is priceless. – TS

10:01 Tomatoes owning this Dolly Parton tribute. Every single one of them. – TS

10:01 All the ladies coming together on “I Will Always Love You”. Amazing. – BF

10:00 Kacey Musgraves sounds right in her wheelhouse on “Here You Come Again.” – JK

9:59 Loving Kacey on “Here You Come Again”. – BF

9:58 Ha! Authentic moment from Reba! – LW

9:55 The Dolly tribute kicks off with Jennifer Nettles and Pentatonix singing “Jolene”. – BF

9:50 So happy that Rhiannon Giddens got to sing at the CMAs! – LW

9:50 Love this simmering performance of “Kill a Word” and of “Vice” earlier. Eric Church is country music’s finest male ambassador right now. – TS

9:49 Congratulations to Carrie!!  Well deserved! – LW

9:48 When people say there aren’t enough great new women to fill out the Female Vocalist category, say to them, ‘Rhiannon Giddens.’ – KJC

9:48 Rhiannon Giddens is on stage at the CMA Awards. Maybe someday it will be for her own work, but this is still great. – JK

9:47 I’m so happy to have been wrong in predicting that Miranda would win again. Carrie deserved that. – JK

9:45 Eric Church performing “Kill a Word” with Rhiannon Giddens. – BF

9:44 WHAT? – TS

9:44 Carrie! – KJC

Female Vocalist of the Year: Carrie Underwood

9:44 The drummer in this performance is responsible for less than half of the percussion coming out of the backing track. Why do they even bother? – JK

9:39 The Florida Georgia Line threat finally materializes. – BF

9:36 Lee Greenwood’s voice still sounded better than Aldean, Rhett, or Bryan. So that’s something. – JK

9:34 Somehow I knew Lee Greenwood was going to break into “God Bless the USA”. – BF

9:33 They’re doing a  weird job of sequencing these performances! Thomas Rhett after the incredible Beyonce/Dixie Chicks performance and now Luke Bryan after the great Chris Stapleton/Dwight Yoakam performance! – LW

9:32 So Luke Bryan the only big star tonight without the self-awareness that he’s on a 50th Anniversary show. Loretta Lynn is in the front row listening to “Move.” – KJC

9:31 Well deserved standing O for Chris Stapleton. Hard to believe it was just a year ago that he got his boost. -TS

9:30 Luke Bryan performing “Move”…ugh.

9:26 Chris Stapleton, Morgane Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam performing “Seven Spanish Angels.” – BF

9:20 No one should follow Bey and the Chicks, but this schmaltz? – TS

9:17 Thomas Rhett performing “Die a Happy Man”. – BF

9:17 I do not understand the criteria for who gets the Pinnacle Award and when. – BF

9:16 And this Peyton Manning presentation of an arbitrary made-up award to Kenny Chesney is how one lets the air out of a room. – JK

9:12 Sorry! I couldn’t comment! I was too busy listening/being riveted! Incredible! – LW

9:11 Besides the overall awesomeness of this performance, it makes me happy to see the Chicks owning their country identity again by returning to the CMA Awards. – BF

9:11 That “Long Time Gone” interlude! – TS

9:10 Dixie. Chicks. – KJC

9:10 This is a truly terrific performance, star power and shock value aside. – TS

9:10 Oh God…”Long Time Gone”. I’m dying of awesome. – BF

9:08 Damn right, Trisha is into it. – JK

9:07 TEXAS. This is everything. – TS

9:06 It’s really happening, y’all. – JK


9:02 I can’t even be excited about that LBT win. I still love them on principle, but that was just a win by inertia. – JK

9:01 “And I was like, dang a chick just won entertainer of the year!” – Karen Fairchild. Foreshadowing? Please? – TS

Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town

8:53 Keith Urban performing “Blue Ain’t Your Color”. – BF

8:52 I’m so glad that Brothers Osborne dethroned Florida Georgia Line! It was a dark time, but we can now see some light! – LW

8:48 This is the least I’ve been charmed by Brad and Carrie’s hosting – anyone else? Seems their bits have been cut short this year. -TS

8:45 Did anyone, anywhere expect Brothers Osborne to be the duo finally to end the Florida Georgia Line reign of error? – JK

8:45 I like them, but I really did not expect Brothers Osborne to win! – LW

Vocal Duo of the Year: Brothers Osbourne

8:43 I don’t know about sort of mashing up “Remember When” and “Troubadour”… – LW

8:40 Alan Jackson and George Strait sharing the stage! Yeah! – BF

8:37 Still not saying anything about the Dixie Chicks, just Beyonce. – LW

8:35 Is Carrie still a co-host of tonight’s show? – LW

8:32 I know Tim McGraw is a decent singer, so I don’t understand why he always sounds flat at these award shows. – LW

8:31 Matthew McConaughey and Tim McGraw are friends? – TS

8:30 Tim McGraw performing “Humble and Kind”. – BF

8:27 Miranda Lambert making me proud to be a fan! – LW

8:25 Miranda Lambert performing “Vice”. Very nice a cappella intro. – BF

8:18 Thank you again to Little Big Town for being one act who reliably delivers every year. – BF

8:18 Kevin’s review made me think twice about LBT’s “Better Man.” I’m enjoying this cathartic performance. -TS

8:17 So, will next year’s CMA Song of the Year award possibly go to Taylor Swift? – LW

8:15 Little Big Town performing “Better Man”. – BF

Album of the Year: Eric Church, Mr. Misunderstood

8:12 Found the first part of that Carrie Underwood performance a little affected, but she killed those riffs at the end. – TS

8:11 Feel like every time Carrie wasn’t nominated for Entertainer, she just went and got better. – KJC

8:10 Carrie’s sounding great! – LW

8:08 Carrie Underwood performing “Dirty Laundry”. – BF

8:07 So great to hear Trisha Yearwood! I enjoyed their performance, though I wish Garth would stop trying to imitate the person whose song he is covering. He had the same problem on his box set of covers. – LW

8:04 Sounds like we are getting Beyonce and the Chicks, but they’re keeping the latter as a surprise. – BF

8:02 I’d watch two more hours of Trisha Yearwood. What a treat. – TS

7:59 Yes! I was hoping Garth and Trisha would do some covers! – LW

7:59 And of course Trisha is acing “Brown Eyes Blue”. – BF

7:59 Garth and Trisha singing a lovely medley of classics. – BF

7:58 Barbara Mandrell. Wow. – BF

7:57 Sweet heartfelt acceptance speech from Maren Morris! – LW

7:57 Such a sweet speech and such a worthy winner. – BF

New Artist of the Year: Maren Morris

7:49 This “My Church” arrangement is taking some of the bite out of what might be my favorite single of 2016, but it’s still a lot of fun. -TS

7:47 Wow! Maren Morris chose great back up for this performance slot! This is awesome! – LW

7:45 Maren Morris with Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the McCrary Sisters with “My Church”. – BF

7:45 Word on the street (and entertainment outlets) is that Beyonce and Dixie Chicks will be performing Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” together tonight, but they don’t seem to be vamping for it in any way so far. – LW

7:42 Dierks Bentley and Elle King performing “Different for Girls.” – BF

7:38 Wow! Aldean sounded as bad as I imagined he would next to Dunn! – LW

7:35 I can say right now that Jason Aldean is no Ronnie Dunn! – LW

7:34 You had me at Brooks & Dunn and lost me at Jason Aldean. – BF

7:34 I’m happy to be wrong! How awesome for Lorie McKenna! How cool it is that Tim McGraw’s wife is who gave her her first break! – LW

7:34 The world needs more “Humble and Kind” and more Lori McKenna. What a sweet win. – TS

Song of the Year – “Humble and Kind” – Lori McKenna

7:31 Yay, Olivia Newton-John! – BF

7:29 Please. One of the dozen or so female vocalist winners in the audience. Take the mike. – KJC

7:28 Kelsea Ballerini performing “Peter Pan”.

7:23 And let the mediocre wins begin. – TS

7:22 And the awards portion gets off to a terrible start! – LW

7:22 Bleh. – BF

Single of the Year – Thomas Rhett, “Die a Happy Man”

7:18 Haha…return of the Time and Faith Barbies. – BF

7:16 Cue the requisite Willie Nelson weed joke. – BF

7:16 This election parody is weak but I am all about #ImwithCarrie – TS

7:11 So sweet that “Forever And Ever Amen” is a sing-along! I’m not crying…I’m not crying… – LW

7:11 That ripped my heart out. If anyone sees it, hold on to it for me – KJC

7:10 Ricky Skaggs with “Country Boy”. Alan Jackson with “Don’t Rock the Jukebox.” And now the whole group singing “Forever and Ever, Amen” in honor of new Hall of Famer Randy Travis. Such an epic start to the show. – BF

7:07 Love that Vince, the Host with the Most, got to start things off! I love this whole opener!:) – LW

7:07 Dwight Yoakam and Brad Paisley with “Guitars, Cadillacs.” Clint Black with “Killin’ Time.” – BF

7:07 This intro is delightful! – TS

7:05 Charlie Daniels shredding the fiddle on “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” And now here comes Reba with “Fancy”! – BF

7:04 Brad Paisley and Charley Pride with “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” and now Alabama with “Mountain Music.” This is awesome. – BF

7:03 Brad Paisley and Roy Clark “Pickin’ and Grinnin'”…and now we get Carrie with a lovely “Stand By Your Man”. – BF

7:02 Vince Gill singing “Mama Tried”. – BF

7:00  Loving this flashback montage from past CMA Awards shows. – BF


  1. Despite Jason Aldean, Brooks and Dunn were awesome! And as a Massachusetts boy, I am thrilled for Lori McKenna. What a wonderful, well-deserved win!

  2. WOW—-we have our big upset of the night. I know the CMA’s try to honor the acts who actually sound country but I thought Florida Georgia Line had this locked down for as long as they kept hitting us with terrible sounding music.

  3. @Raymond. Probably, I was gouging my eyes out during that particular performance.

    On the other hand, I am incredibly happy for Brothers Osborne! Always nice to see a great upset.

  4. The real winner tonight has been WME. Their acts have so far won all the major awards with Vocal Event being the exception. Let’s hear it for block voting!

  5. So good to hear the Dixie Chicks back even for a few minutes at a country awards show. They were railroaded during a heavily jingoistic time period in America.

  6. I know he isn’t necessarily a fan favorite around here but poor Thomas Rhett. Last year he performed in the segment after Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake. Tonight he comes in the performance after Beyonce and The Dixie Chicks.

    He must curse when he sees the rundown sheet in rehearsals.

  7. The Chicks were everything, and Beyoncé looked like she was having so much fun. I’m really enjoying this show tonight – and as per usual, the females have been rocking their performances (Miranda, Carrie, Kelsea (even though she was nervous/pitchy in spots, I’m a sucker for Peter Pan), LBT, Reba during the medley at the beginning)… The Dolly tribute is just gonna add to the terrificness of the show!

  8. This show is jam packed. Very little time for Brad and Carrie to do much. Honestly- they should’ve done away with performances of the newer songs. Just have the current artists duet with CMA veterans and do that. Or cut stuff like “Move.” No need for it.

  9. That whole tribute to Dolly was amazing, as I expected it to be. Five talented ladies who paid very special tribute to another very special lady. I wish they had timed things better to give Dolly a little more time – I love her joy for life!

  10. Aside from the Thomas Rhett win for Single of the Year (although it is popular), this was a really good set of awards tonight. Feels like mainstream country has been righting the ship a bit over the last two years. The awards for Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton and Lori McKenna, in particular, seemed right on target. A good night, with some good performances, maybe the Eric Church/Rhiannon Giddons topping the list!

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