47th Annual CMA Awards Complete Preview



When: 7 PM Central, 8 PM Eastern on ABC. Time delayed for the West Coat.

Where: The Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN.

Hosts: Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood (6th consecutive year)


More Traditional Country Than One Might Expect

The pop and glitz of the CMA Awards go without saying, but we may see more classic and traditional country represented than in recent years, principally a full-blown tribute from George Jones who passed away earlier this year. George Jones was famously wronged by the CMA’s in 1999 when they told him he could only sing part of his song “Choices,” and again earlier this year when the CMT Awards only spent 30 seconds on their tribute to the Possum. Expect dues to be paid here when Alan Jackson and George Strait perform the tribute, however much it makes the producers wince that they’re losing their younger demographic.

Kenny Rogers will also be given a tribute with the recently-established Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

And last but not least, Taylor Swift‘s performance of her song “Red” with an All-Star cast that includes Vince Gill, Sam Bush, and Alison Krauss may be one of the surprisingly substantive moments of the night.

CMA producer Robert Deaton told the Tennessean, “I think the biggest thing I want to strive for is balance. I’m talking about balance of who we are as a music and a genre because we are a lot of different things, you want to be current but you also want to pay tribute to the shoulders that we stand on.”

Kacey Musgraves To Push Boundaries

Nominated for as many CMA’s as anyone on the night with 6, Kacey Musgraves is slated to perform her progressive single “Follow Your Arrow” that mentions both rolling up joints, and kissing girls. You can mark these down as significant moments on the great country music timeline when the lyrical content of the traditionally-conservative format were pushed once again.

Cross-Genre Appearances

There will be on rappers, no Lil’ Wayne, no Kid Rock this year, unless the CMA’s are hiding something up their sleeve. Instead we get Dave Grohl collaborating with the Zac Brown Band, Kelly Clarkson, and the rather innocuous Jason Mraz working with Hunter Hayes.


Artists confirmed to present awards include Kellie Pickler, Jake Owen, Lee Brice, Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge, Eli Young Band, Kip Moore, and Sheryl Crow. Thompson Square will announce the pre-telecast awards for Musical Event, Music Video and Musician that were announced on ABC’s Good Morning America. 

Non performers confirmed to be presenting awards include Connie Britton, and Charles Esten from ABC’s drama NashvilleJase and Missy Robertson from Duck Dynasty, and Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars. 


Special Performances & Collaborations

Taylor Swift is scheduled to perform her song “Red” with help from Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, mandolin player Sam Bush, bassist Edger Meyer, and percussionist Eric Darden.

George Strait and Alan Jackson will perform a tribute to George Jones.

Zac Brown Band will perform with Dave Grohl who is rumored to be producing the band’s new album.

Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan will perform together to open the show.

Rascal Flatts, Jennifer Nettles, and Darius Rucker will perform a tribute to new Country Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Rogers.

Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban will perform “We Were Us” together.

” Sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella from the ABC drama Nashville will perform.

Other Performers

  • Jason Aldean
  • Eric Church – “The Outsiders”
  • Hunter Hayes w. Jason Mraz
  • Lady Antebeullum
  • Little Big Town
  • Tim McGraw
  • Kacey Musgraves  – “Follow Your Arrow”
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • The Band Perry
  • Carrie Underwood


Taylor Swift will receive the Pinnacle Award. It is “given to an artist who has achieved worldwide success and recognition that’s unique to country music.” The award was created in 2005, and has only been awarded one other time to Garth Brooks.

Kenny Rogers will receive the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was created last year to recognize artists that have “achieved both national and international prominence and stature through concert performances, humanitarian efforts, philanthropy, record sales, and public representation at the highest level.” Willie Nelson was the inaugural recipient.


(Read Saving Country Music’s Predictions and Prognostications)

”Already Awarded: On Good Morning America, both the CMA “Musical Event of the Year” and “Music Video of the Year” was awarded to Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban for “Highway Don’t Care.”

Entertainer of the Year

  • Blake Shelton
  • Jason Aldean
  • Taylor Swift
  • George Strait
  • Luke Bryan

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban
  • Eric Church

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

 Single of the Year

  • “Cruise”; Florida Georgia Line; Produced by Joey Moi; Republic Nashville
  • “Highway Don’t Care”; Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban; Produced by Byron Gallimore and Tim McGraw; Big Machine Records
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart”; Miranda Lambert; Produced by Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf, and Chuck Ainlay; RCA Nashville
  • “Merry Go ‘Round”; Kacey Musgraves; Produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves; Mercury Records
  • Wagon Wheel”; Darius Rucker; Produced by Frank Rogers; Capitol Records Nashville

Album of the Year

  • Based on a True Story: Blake Shelton; Produced by Scott Hendricks; Warner Bros. Records
  • Blown Away: Carrie Underwood; Produced by Mark Bright; 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville
  • Red: Taylor Swift; Produced by Jeff Bhasker, Scott Borchetta, Nathan Chapman, Dann Huff, Jacknife Lee, Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift, Butch Walker, and Dan Wilson; Big Machine Records
  • Same Trailer Different Park: Kacey Musgraves; Produced by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves; Mercury Records
  • Tornado: Little Big Town; Produced by Jay Joyce; Capitol Records Nashville

Song of the Year

  • “I Drive Your Truck,” Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
  • “Merry Go ‘Round,” Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne, and Shane McAnally
  • “Pontoon,” Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, and Barry Dean
  • “Wagon Wheel,” Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor

New Artist of the Year

  • Brett Eldredge
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Kip Moore
  • Kacey Musgraves

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Big & Rich
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Love and Theft
  • Sugarland
  • The Civil Wars
  • Thompson Square

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum Other Potential Winner
  • Little Big Town
  • The Band Perry Winner
  • Zac Brown Band

Musical Event of the Year

  • “Boys ‘Round Here”: Blake Shelton (featuring Pistol Annies); Warner Bros. Records
  • “Cruise”: Florida Georgia Line (with Nelly); Republic Nashville
  • “Highway Don’t Care”; Tim McGraw (with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban); Big Machine Records – Winner
  • “The Only Way I Know”; Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church; Broken Bow Records
  • “Don’t Rush”: Kelly Clarkson (featuring Vince Gill) 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville

Music Video of the Year

  • “Blown Away,” Carrie Underwood; Directed by Randee St. Nicholas
  • “Boys ‘Round Here,” Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies; Directed by Trey Fanjoy
  • “Downtown,” Lady Antebellum; Directed by Peter Zavadil
  • “Highway Don’t Care,” Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban; Directed by Shane Drake – Winner
  • “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda Lambert; Directed by Trey Fanjoy
  • “Tornado,” Little Big Town; Directed by Shane Drake

Musician of the Year

  • Sam Bush (Mandolin)
  • Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
  • Dann Huff (Guitar)
  • Brent Mason (Guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (Guitar)