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55th Annual CMA Awards Recap

November 12, 2021

Country music returned to Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville on Wednesday night for country music's biggest night.

Chris Stapleton was the 55th annual CMA Awards big winner, taking home single, song, and Album of the Year, as well as male Vocalist of the Year. Luke Combs took home the night's biggest prize when he was named Entertainer of the Year for the first time, besting Stapleton, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood.

"Every single person that was nominated for this award this year, and every year before, deserves to win this," said a stunned Combs, "I don't deserve to win it, but I'm sure as hell glad that I did!"

Recent Grand Ole Opry inductee, Carly Pearce, took home her first Female Vocalist of the Year trophy.

"I've had just, had, like a crazy year," Pearce said in an emotional speech. "And I just want you guys to know that this means everything to me. Country music saved me at a time that I needed it, and I just hope you guys know that this is all I've ever wanted in the entire world."

Meanwhile, Jimmie Allen made history when he was named New Artist of the Year, becoming only the second Black performer to be awarded the title, following Darius Rucker's 2009 win.

Allen then went on to perform his hit song, “Freedom Was a Highway.”

Brothers Osborne were named Vocal Duo of the Year for the second time. The first won the category in 2018.

"It's been a crazy roller coaster of a year for us in so many ways, especially for me emotionally," he said. "And to have you all support me, it really does feel like love wins tonight."

Later, Brothers Osborne sang a rendition of their powerful song "Younger Me," which emphasized T.J. Osborne's journey to acceptance of his sexuality.

Another powerful moment came from Mickey Guyton's performance of the song "Love My Hair." Guyton said that through the song, she was able to "make sure girls like me feel seen and loved." Guyton sang the song with Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards, and all three women wore natural hairstyles.

Stapleton took the stage with Jennifer Hudson as she sang Aretha Franklin's arrangement of Willie Nelson's "Night Life" and joined Hudson for a soulful duet of "You Are My Sunshine."

Other highlights of the night included Miranda Lambert's five-minute-long hit-packed medley including "Kerosene," "Mama's Broken Heart," "Blue Bird," and "Gunpowder and Lead." Also, Combs debuted his new song "Doin' It," and Eric Church performed his song, “Heart of Fire.” Zac Brown Band performed their recent hit “Same Boat,” while Old Dominion debuted their performance of “I Was On A Boat That Day.”

Host Luke Bryan returned to the CMA stage as a performer with his rendition of his song “Up.” Keith Urban performed his song, “Wild Hearts,” and Thomas Rhett sang his hit, ‘Country Again.

Kane Brown and Chris Young partnered up to perform "Famous Friends." Other collaborations of the night included McBryde and Pearce performing "Never Wanted to Be That Girl"; Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean singing "If I Didn't Love You"; and Deana Carter and Lainey Wilson leading the entire Bridgestone Arena in a singalong of Carter's classic "Strawberry Wine." Dierks Bently brought Hard and Breland out to perform their song, “Beers On Me.”

Full List of Performances:

Blake Shelton, "Come Back as a Country Boy"

Brothers Osborne, "Younger Me"

Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde, "Never Wanted to Be That Girl"

Chris Stapleton, "Cold"

Chris Young and Kane Brown, "Famous Friends"

Dan + Shay, "I Should Probably Go to Bed"

Dierks Bentley, Breland and Hardy, "Beers on Me"

Eric Church, "Heart on Fire"

Gabby Barrett, "The Good Ones"

Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood, "If I Didn't Love You"

Jennifer Hudson and Chris Stapleton, Aretha Franklin Tribute of "Night Life" and "You Are My Sunshine"

Jimmie Allen, "Freedom Was a Highway"

Keith Urban, "Wild Hearts"

Luke Bryan, "Up"

Luke Combs, "Doin' This"

Mickey Guyton, Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards, "Love My Hair"

Miranda Lambert Medley

Old Dominion, "I Was on a Boat That Day"

Thomas Rhett, "Country Again"

Zac Brown Band, "Same Boat"

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