The 49th annualCountry Music association Awardsare now in the history books, and one thing is because that sure: If music fans weren’t already aware the the nameChris Stapleton, they are now.

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The Mercury Nashville record artist surprised the sector with a trio of unlikely wins — for male vocalist, new artist the the year and album the the year — and also the singer also scored the most-talked around musical minute of the night via his performance withJustin Timberlake. In fact, Stapleton’s night also overshadowedLuke Bryan’s 2nd straight win as entertainer of the year — the an initial time an artist had actually repeated in the classification sinceKenny Chesneywon three straight times in between 2006 and 2008. (Taylor Swiftwon the compensation in 2009 and also 2011.)


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Stapleton — one artist there is no a peak 40 solitary on the country charts — could not have tallied in ~ radio, however he did obtain a ton of positive press for hisTravellerdisc, which take it the prize because that album of the year — another vast shock to the audience. For the first time in 12 years, the CMA voter selected a winner in the album classification that didn’t encompass a height 40 hit, v the last example beingAmerican IV: The man Comes AroundbyJohnny Cashin 2003. In to win the masculine vocalist honor, Stapleton brokeBlake Shelton’s five-year win streak. “This is one unbelievable point to me, and also I’m no going to take it lightly,” he told the audience while agree his final award of the night.

There were part awards the weren’t surprises, however.Little large Townwalked far with solitary of the year because that “Girl Crush,” an respect Karen Fairchild claimed was for “a ballad about jealousy and also heartache. This was around being brave and being bold,” prior to thanking the writers, Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey. The trio of women would get a chance to thank voters themselves later in the broadcast v their victory for song of the year. “We simply want to give thanks to Little large Town, that were behind this song literally indigenous hour one,” stated Rose. Simply a couple of minutes later, the group would offer an emotional performance that the song that netted them and also the authors their respective trophies.


However, the most-talked about performance that the night belonged to Stapleton v “Tennessee Whiskey,” performed with Timberlake. The track — fromTraveller— to be a No. 2 fight forGeorge Jonesin 1983. Your performance ended with a little of Timberlake’s “Drink you Away,” which lugged the Bridgestone Arena crowd to their cumulative feet through a was standing ovation.


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Some the the artists were repeat winners at the podium.Florida Georgia Linewon their third vocal duo that the year award, if Little huge Town claimed their 4th win because that vocal group of year. Their win gives them the longest streak in the ar sinceRascal Flattswon six in a row from 2002 to 2008. One more streak the six now belongs toMiranda Lambertas female vocalist. Bryan was the final repeat winner, and the superstar to be exhilarated, to say the least, however he couldn’t stand up to tipping his hat to the large winner the the night. “What an impressive night the music. Watching chris Stapleton have actually this night to be so amazing.”

The show kicked off through an opening that parodiedStar Wars, with Paisley and Underwood playing the main characters. Additionally appearing in the montage were Little big Town,Darius Ruckerand Bryan. Then, it was onto the music — v the much-anticipated duet of “Are You ready for the Country” betweenHank Williams Jr.andEric Church. The song — originally a struggle forWaylon Jennings— is the first single fromIt’s around Time, the Nash icon debut task from Williams, set for release this January. That performance set the table forJohn MellencampandKeith Urban’s spirited take of “Pink Houses,” i beg your pardon segued right into Urban’s “John Cougar, man Deere, john 3:16.” later on on,Thomas Rhettcontinued the collaborative thread through performing his “Crash and Burn” withFall the end Boy. The pop group’s “Uma Thurman” was additionally featured throughout their set.

Other standout performances contained theZac Brown Band’s “Beautiful Drug” and Chesney’s “Save It for a merganser Day.”Sam Huntgave a subdued variation of his vast crossover fight “Take her Time.” Church also scored with his performance of “Mr. Misunderstood,” the title reduced from his just-released album. Do a splashy figure on the present wasKacey Musgraves, who sang her current solitary “Dime keep Cowgirl.”

One performance the took viewers ago in time to be a medley featuringReba McEntireand her 1994 hit “Why Haven’t ns Heard native You,” andBrooks & Dunnrecapturing their past with 2005’s “Play miscellaneous Country.” The performance offered the audience a taste of their las vegas residence, which will resume Dec. 2 in ~ Caesar’s Palace.

The present started with co-hostsBrad PaisleyandCarrie Underwood’s patented monologues. Among their targets were Donald Trump, the Ashley Madison website and former couple Miss Piggy and also Kermit — oh, and on the topic of splits: “Howdy, Blake,” Paisley quipped. That course, the was a sly recommendation to Shelton’s divorce fromMiranda Lambertthis past summer. Lambert was not mentioned by name in the opening, which included a distinct surprise figure by the legendary William Shatner.


In ceremonies held prior to the telecast,Mac McAnallywon his eighth award for musician of the year — one awkward of tying the record organized byChet Atkins. Posthumous awards were given to George Jones (Joe Talbot Award) and Johnny Cash (Willie Nelson Lifetime success Award). They join a team of winners that included Dot newcomersMaddie & Tae(video the the year because that “Girl in a country Song”) and Capitol Nashville superstars Urban and Church for musical event of the year, both that which to be presented previously in the day on ABC’sGood Morning America. The 2 won the prize for “Raise ‘Em Up.” The success was Urban’s third straight, following wins through Lambert (“We were Us”) andTim McGrawand Swift (“Highway Don’t Care”). In to win the 2015 honor, metropolitan tied Paisley (with who he won the respect in 2009) for the many wins in the category.

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This story first appeared ~ above Billboard.com.


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