49th Annual (2015) CMA Awards Complete Preview


(Tune in Wednesday night for Saving Country Music’s LIVE Blog of the CMA Awards)


When: 7 PM Central, 8 PM Eastern Wednesday, November 4th 2015 on ABC. Time delayed for the West Coat.

Where: The Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN.

Hosts: Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood (8th consecutive year)


” More classic country than you think. Usually you have to squint and focus hard to find anything that could be considered classic country on the CMA Awards. This year going in, we already know there will be two classic country performances, and that doesn’t include unannounced songs or surprise guests. Hank Williams Jr. will lead off the show with a new version of Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Ready For The Country” with Eric Church (read more). The song was original written and performed by Neil Young. Then later Chris Stapleton will perform “Tennessee Whiskey” originally recorded by David Allan Coe and written by Dean Dillon (read more).

” Emphasis on women. With all the “tomato” talk in country music in 2015, it appears the CMA’s have made a concerted effort to make sure women don’t get forgotten in the festivities like in previous years. The female performers were announced first, and there’s quite a few of them this year, including Kacey Musgraves and Maddie & Tae. The next question will be is if some only receive 30-scond slots to sing the hook of their song heading into commercial, or will be given a full 2 to 3-minute performance.

” Critics favorite Chris Stapleton is up for three awards. Though he must be considered an underdog in all three categories, there is sufficient buzz going into the night had he could be a quality Dark Horse pick for Album of the Year. Any Stapleton win could symbolize the coming of a diametric shift for country music.

” The end of the Miranda Lambert / Blake Shelton reign? The now divorced couple has won five of the last five Male and Female Vocalist of the Year awards respectively. Though Miranda still has to be considered a front runner, this may be the end of the road for Blake. This will be an interesting development, as will watching the interaction of the two at the awards. Expect the camera to favor these two all night (read more).


Artists presenting awards on the night with be Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, Brett Eldredge, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Lee Ann Womack, Reba McEntire, Cole Swindell, Jennifer Nettles, Darius Rucker, and a cappella group Pentatonix.

Non artist presenters include US Women’s Soccer Players Megan Rapinoe and Heather O’Reilly, ESPN’s Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, Sports Illustrated cover model Hannah Davis, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, actor Kiefer Sutherland, and Wicked City actress Erika Christensen.


Special Performances & Collaborations

” Hank Williams Jr. will lead off the awards with a rendition of “Are You Ready For The Country” written by Neil Young, and later recorded by Waylon Jennings. He will be joined by Eric Church.

” Chris Stapleton will be joined by Justin Timberlake on stage. The two will perform Justin’s “Drink You Away” and Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”

” Thomas Rhett will collaborate with Fall Out Boy. It will be a combination of Rhett’s song “Crash and Burn,” and Fall Out Boy’s song “Uma Thurman.”

” John Mellencamp with perform with Keith Urban. Though not confirmed, the two will very likely collaborate on Urban’s current hit “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.” The two have also performed Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” together recently.

” Reba McEntire will team up with recent Las Vegas residency openers Brooks & Dunn.

” Dierks Bentley will perform with violin maestro and YouTube star Lindsey Stirling.

Other Performers

” Jason Aldean

” Kelsea Ballerini

” Luke Bryan

” Kenny Chesney

” Eric Church

” Florida Georgia Line

” Sam Hunt

” Miranda Lambert

” Little Big Town

” Maddie & Tae

” Kacey Musgraves

” Brad Paisley

” Blake Shelton

” Carrie Underwood

” Zac Brown Band


(READ: Saving Country Music’s Picks & Prognostications)

NOTE: “Raise ‘Em Up” featuring Keith Urban and Eric Church has already been announced as the Event of the Year. And Maddie & Tae‘s “Girl in a Country Song” has already been announced for Video of the Year.

Entertainer of the Year

Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert


Male Vocalist of the Year

Dierks Bentley
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Chris Stapleton


Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood
Lee Ann Womack


Album of the Year

Old Boots, New Dirt
Jason Aldean
Produced by Michael Knox
Broken Bow

Pageant Material
Kacey Musgraves
Produced by Kacey Musgraves, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally
Mercury Nashville

Pain Killer
Little Big Town
Produced by Jay Joyce
Capitol Records Nashville

The Big Revival
Kenny Chesney
Produced by Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney
Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville

Chris Stapleton
Produced by Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton
Mercury Nashville


Song of the Year

“American Kids”
Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally

“Girl Crush”
Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, and Hillary Lindsey

“Like a Cowboy”
Randy Houser and Brice Long

“Like a Wrecking Ball”
Eric Church and Casey Beathard

“Take Your Time”
Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne


Single of the Year

“American Kids”
Kenny Chesney
Produced by Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney
Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville

“Girl Crush”
Little Big Town
Produced by Jay Joyce
Capitol Records Nashville

“I Don’t Dance”
Lee Brice
Produced by Lee Brice
Curb Records

“Take Your Time”
Sam Hunt
Produced Zach Crowell and Shane McAnally
MCA Nashville

Eric Church
Produced by Jay Joyce and Arturo Buenahora, Jr.
EMI Records Nashville


New Artist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Sam Hunt
Maddie & Tae
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton


Vocal Duo of the Year

Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae
Thompson Square


Vocal Group of the Year

Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band


Event of the Year

Django and Jimmie
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
Legacy Recordings

“Lonely Tonight”
Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe
Warner Bros./Warner Music Nashville

“Raise ‘Em Up” – Announced As Winner
Keith Urban featuring Eric Church
Hit Red Records/Capitol Records Nashville

“Smokin’ and Drinkin’”
Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
RCA Nashville

“Wild Child”
Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter
Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville


Music Video of the Year

Kacey Musgraves
Directed by Marc Klasfeld

“Girl Crush”
Little Big Town
Directed by Karla Welch and Matthew Welch

“Girl in a Country Song” – Announced As Winner
Maddie & Tae
Directed by TK McKamy

“Little Red Wagon”
Miranda Lambert
Directed by Trey Fanjoy

“Something in the Water”
Carrie Underwood
Directed by Raj Kapoor

© 2023 Saving Country Music