The 46th annual Country Music Association Awards were handed out November 1 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square earned its first CMA award and ended Sugarland’s five-year winning streak as Vocal Duo of the Year.
Thompson Square was also nominated for this year’s New Artist of the Year award, but lost in that category to Hunter Hayes, 22.
Earlier this year, Hunter had a Number One hit with his debut single “Wanted.” Then 21 years old, he made history as the youngest solo male artist to reach Number One on Billboard’s Top Country Songs chart. While accepting his New Artist trophy, Hunter expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped him throughout the past year.
“I don’t even know what to do right now. Oh, wow, thank you!" Hayes exclaimed. "Country radio, thank you for believing in me, thank you so much. Thanks to my band, my crew, everybody. Amazing…this is awesome. I’m just blessed beyond belief. Thank you so much fans, Country radio. I love you guys. Thank you.”
Little Big Town was a double CMA Award winner. The four-member band took home the Single of the Year award for its summertime hit “Pontoon” and was also named Vocal Group of the Year.
Miranda Lambert and her husband Blake Shelton shared this year’s Song of Year honor for co-writing Miranda’s Number One ballad, “Over You.” The song was inspired by the loss of Blake’s older brother, Richie Shelton.
“I lost my brother in a car wreck when I was 14 years old. Later in life, when I decided I wanted to be a Country singer, my dad always told me, ‘Son, you should write a song about your brother.’ I lost my dad in January and it’s so amazing to me that tonight, even after he’s gone, he’s still right. I just needed the right person to sing this song with and the right person to sing it. I love you so much lady,” Shelton said during his acceptance speech.
“Thank you Blake for allowing me to sing this beautiful song and write it with you," Lambert told her husband. "Thank you CMA and all of our peers for voting for us. It’s really emotional. We love you all. Thank you.”
Miranda Lambert also took home her third consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year CMA Award.
Highlights of the show included an all-star tribute to Country legend Willie Nelson, who received the CMA’s inaugural Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award; Vince Gill’s duet with Kelly Clarkson that will appear on her upcoming greatest hits album, and new songs performed by many of this year’s nominees. During the telecast, co-hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley encouraged viewers to make donations to the American Red Cross to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the U.S. East Coast early this week.
Other CMA Award winners included Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, who shared the Musical Event of the Year award for their duet “Feel Like A Rock Star;” Toby Keith, Music Video of the Year for the humorous clip to his party anthem “Red Solo Cup;” and Mac McAnally, named Musician of the Year for the fifth consecutive year.
Eric Church went into this year’s race with a leading five nominations. He went home with only one award, the coveted Album of the Year trophy for “Chief,” which produced the Number One hit, “Springsteen.” Eric thanked his fans for allowing him to stay true to his musical style.
“I’ve been at this a long time. I spent a lot of my career wondering where I fit in - too country, too rock. I want to thank you guys for giving me somewhere to hang my hat tonight. I appreciate it very much. Thank you,” Church said.
Blake Shelton received his second award of the night for Male Vocalist of the Year. This is his third straight win in that category. And, no one was more surprised than Blake when his name was announced as this year’s Entertainer of the Year.
“Entertainer of the Year? What are you talking about?" an astonished Shelton asked. "You know what, listen here, 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 try to represent Country music as best I can with everything I do. It’s television, it’s touring, it’s a lot of things. I love Country music more than anybody in this room. Thank you all so much. I love you all. Thank you.”