50th Annual CMA Awards Complete Preview


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


When: 7 p.m. Central, 8 p.m. Eastern Wednesday, November 2nd 2016 on ABC.

Where: The Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN.

Hosts: Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood (9th consecutive year)


Tons of Traditional Country Artists to Appear. We’re not talking just one or two. Pound for pound, the 50th Annual CMA Awards will have just as many traditional country performers as contemporary performers. There have also been numerous traditional country presenters announced, including the retired Barbara Mandrell and Bill Anderson. Granted, with so many performers, undoubtedly there will be duets, pairings, medleys of hits, and other ways to squeeze everyone in. But compare this to any other year for the CMA’s, or the 50th Annual ACM Awards that did nothing like this, and the face time for traditional country artists on primetime television will be unprecedented.

Multiple Tributes to Legendary Artists. Though specifics on this year’s performances have been more hush hush than normal, it appears we’ll be getting tributes to Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, and Merle Haggard. Expect many of the announced country legends to participate in these tributes together.

Entertainer of the Year is a Complete Toss Up. Could Chris Stapleton Win? Rarely or ever have we gone into the CMA Awards with so much uncertainty of who could win the night’s biggest prize. A strong case can be made for Garth Brooks after he’s amassed incredible numbers during his comeback tour. Carrie Underwood also has to be given strong consideration, and there is a sense out there it could be “her year” to win this. But Chris Stapleton has never lost a CMA Awards he’s been nominated for (UPDATE: Just announced, he won for Video of the Year, but lost for Musical Event of the Year), and has to be considered a favorite as well. Ultimately though, it still might remain Luke Bryan’s to lose. Only Keith Urban seems to not have a chance.

Will Miranda Lambert’s Female Vocalist Streak End? Six years in a row Miranda Lambert has won the Female Vocalist of the Year. Being such a down year for her production wise, it’s hard to see her winning. But who knows? Carrie Underwood could finally break Miranda’s streak, or perhaps dark horse Maren Morris rises up to take it.

World Series Game 7 Will Take a Bite Out of Ratings. The CMA’s have been laboring for the last six months to make sure as many eyeballs as possible are affixed to their 50th Annual awards Wednesday night. But a very high profile Game 7 in the World Series with the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians will put a significant dent in not just viewership, but the attention paid to the entire country music industry. Depending on how good the game is, it could be nothing short of catastrophic.


Artists presenters include Barbara Mandrell, Bill Anderson, Brenda Lee, Cam, Cole Swindell, Lee Greenwood, Olivia Newton-John, and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Non artist presenters include Olympian gymnasts Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian and Simone Biles, a.k.a “The Fierce Five,” actors Josh Dallas and Matthew McConaughey, and actresses Sharon Stone, Jennifer Garner, and Lily Tomlin.


LATE BREAKING: Beyonce has officially been announced as a late-edition to the lineup. She will perform during the beginning segment with The Dixie Chicks singing her “country” song “Daddy Lessons.”

This year, the performers have been pretty hush hush about the songs to be performed, and the collaborations to happen. What we do know is Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will be performing together, Dierks Bentley and Elle King will be performing together, Ben Haggard will be performing with a group of country legends, and Pentatonix will be participating in a presentation for Dolly Parton.

Country Legends:

Charley Pride, George Strait, Vince Gill, Alabama, Reba McEntire, Charlie Daniels, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Roy Clark, Dwight Yoakam.

Older Contemporary Stars:

Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson.

New Performers:

Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, Jennifer Nettles, Elle King, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Ben Haggard.


Chris Stapleton has already won Video of the Year for “Fire Away,” and Dierks Bentley / Elle King have won Musical Event of the Year for “Different For Girls.”

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

Entertainer of the Year

Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood
Keith Urban

Single of the Year

“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“My Church,” Maren Morris
“Nobody to Blame,” Chris Stapleton
“Record Year,” Eric Church

Album of the Year

Black, Dierks Bentley
Hero, Maren Morris
Mr. Misunderstood, Eric Church
Ripcord, Keith Urban
Storyteller, Carrie Underwood

Song of the Year

“Burning House,” Camaron “Cam” Ochs, Tyler Johnson, Jeff Bhasker
“Die a Happy Man,” Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett, Joe Spargur
“Humble and Kind,” Lori McKenna
“My Church,” busbee, Maren Morris
“Record Year,” Eric Church, Jeff Hyde

(Award goes to songwriters)

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year

Dierks Bentley
Eric Church
Tim McGraw
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Vocal Group of the Year

Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year

Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Joey + Rory
Maddie & Tae

New Artist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Brothers Osborne
Maren Morris
Old Dominion
Cole Swindell

Musical Event of the Year

“Different for Girls,” Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King – WINNER
“Home Alone Tonight,” Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild
“The Fighter,” Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood
“Think of You,” Chris Young with Cassadee Pope
“You Are My Sunshine,” Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton

Music Video of the Year

“Burning House,” Cam
“Fire Away,” Chris Stapleton – WINNER
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“Record Year,” Eric Church
“Somewhere on a Beach,” Dierks Bentley

Musician of the Year

Jerry Douglas (Dobro/lap steel)
Paul Franklin (steel guitar)
Dann Huff (guitar) – WINNER
Brent Mason (guitar)
Derek Wells (guitar)


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