Hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, the 56th annual CMA Awards aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night.
The biggest night in country music kicked off with a heartwarming tribute to late legendary singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn, opening with a montage of throwback clips of Lynn at prior CMA Awards shows. After, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire each took a turn at one of Lynn’s songs before they joined forces for “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
That was just the beginning of the night’s performances, with stars like Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce, Zac Brown Band, Morgan Wallen and Kelsea Ballerini taking the CMAs stage. Pop stars Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson also graced the stage as part of the big night.
One of the night’s surprises came from Jo Dee Messina, who returned to the CMAs for the first time in 20 years. She joined Cole Swindell as he performed his smash record “She Had Me at Heads Carolina,” which heavily references Messina’s 1996 debut hit “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”
When it came to big wins of the night, Lainey Wilson, who led the pack with six nominations, took home New Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year. Chris Stapleton won Male Vocalist of the Year, making it his sixth time winning the honor, while Luke Combs snagged Album of the Year for Growin’ Up. Combs also took home the coveted Entertainer of the Year award, which he said was a “dream come true.”
The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement award went to Alan Jackson after a tribute performance by Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Underwood and Wilson.
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