Once a year, Nashville turns “Hollywood” for the annual CMA Awards. The 44th aired Wednesday, November 10 on ABC, hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. The three-hour show, star-studded and slickly produced, was broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena, the biggest downtown venue seating around 17 thousand. Fans started to line up between three and four a.m. to see their favorites walk down the Black Carpet. Why black instead of red? The sponsor was Jack Daniel’s.
Country Outsiders Galore
Gwyneth Paltrow wasn’t the only non-country star appearing and performing. Kid Rock sang his new single “Born Free”; Kelly Clarkson teamed with Jason Aldean; Sissy Spacek, who starred in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” came to pay tribute to Loretta Lynn’s 50 years in show business. Lynn herself joined Sheryl Crow and Miranda Lambert on her signature song.
That’s not counting, as outsiders, Darius Rucker who switched genres, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum who both have had crossover success, Jeff Gordon and Carrot Top who stopped to say hello on the Black Carpet, and actress Nicole Kidman with her mate Keith Urban.
As for Paltrow, she took the stage with Vince Gill to play guitar and sing the title song from her current movie, “Country Strong.” She received a standing ovation-not readily accorded by the hyper-jaded Music Row crowd.
You may or may not remember Miranda Lambert from the “Nashville Star” competition of 2003 when she was 21. Lambert came in third but since her debut single, “Me and Charlie Talking,” the Texas singer/songwriter has never looked back. On this night, she took home CMA Awards for Female Vocalist, beating Taylor Swift in that category, Album of the Year, and Music Video. Her recording of “The House That Built Me,” composed by songwriting veterans Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin, won Song of the Year. Happily, her fiancé Blake Shelton also won a few, including his first for Male Vocalist, to place on the mantle next to hers.
Brad Paisley revealed another side to his usually fun personality. He choked up with emotion during his acceptance speech for Entertainer of the Year Award. Yes, Lambert was nominated for that one too as was Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band. Oddly, with several hits already under their belt, the Zac Brown Band won for Best New Artist. Lady Antebellum (in interviews, the name already shortened to Lady A) who scored both a pop and country hit with “Need You Now,” received awards for Vocal Group and Single of the Year. Since they recently hung up their scootin’ boots, Brooks and Dunn were on the ballot for Vocal Duo of the Year one last time, but the award went to Sugarland, the fourth win for Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush.
On camera in the pre-show, LeAnn Rimes praised the high caliber of players you find in Music City and they certainly proved her point, rocking the arena on most numbers.
Another thing about country music, they sure grow ’em tall. James Otto gave his height as six foot five, putting him among stars who stand heads above, including Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton, Charles Kelly of Lady A, and Trace Adkins.
On the fashion front, Carrie Underwood definitely went for frou-frou with several wardrobe changes during the show. Rather than just host banter, she and Paisley put current events into song. Oh and Reba covered Beyonce’s hit, “If I Were A Boy,” another clue that this was definitely not your parents’ country.