The 2020 CMA Awards Will Be a Tribute Heavy Affair
This story has been updated.
The 2020 CMA Awards will transpire on Wednesday, November 11th (make sure to follow along with Saving Country Music’s LIVE blog), and this year it will be a tribute heavy affair.
Tributes, remembrances, and the marking of anniversaries will be a big part of the presentation, including the event commencing with an extended tribute to Charlie Daniels involving Dierks Bentley, Ashley McBryde, Brothers Osborne, fiddle great Jenee Fleenor, and Jason Aldean.
Then interspersed throughout the program, Jon Pardi will pay tribute to Joe Diffie, Little Big Town will pay tribute to Kenny Rogers, and Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker will pay tribute to Mac Davis, all who passed away in 2020.
See the full performance lineup, as well as all the presenters and award nominees below.
Also, Charley Pride will be receiving the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 40th Anniversary of the iconic country music film Urban Cowboy will be paid tribute with a performance of Johnny Lee’s “Looking For Love.”
Other Things To Look For:
• As always, Entertainer of the Year will be a hot topic. Many Eric Church fans will once again be hoping he finally walks away with it, while Luke Combs has to be considered the front runner with the numbers he’s been putting together. With two women up for the award for the first time in 20 years in the form of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, they also have a better chance than ever to win. Will voters give it to Underwood, since many believed she deserved it last year? Or will putting two women in contention mean they take votes from each other, and Combs or Church, or God forbid Keith Urban become the victor?
• Where last year the emphasis was on women, this year the unspoken emphasis is on African American performers. Not only is Charley Pride receiving the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, Darius Rucker is performing and hosting (with Reba McEntire), Jimmie Allen is performing and presenting, CeCe Winans will also be appearing. Those looking for more diversity will find it at the 2020 CMAs.
• COVID-19 will be an even hotter topic than normal. Both Lee Brice and Florida Georgia Line had to back out of performances after Brice and Tyler Hubbard tested positive. It has already brought an extra level of scrutiny to an event that will have no audience, and social distance protocols will be in place for all performances. Earlier this week, many artists spoke out about the hypocrisy of mass gatherings while they’re still not allowed to perform. There also appears to be some friction brewing in Florida Georgia Line, with reports saying Tyler Hubbard and his wife have deleted fellow duo member Brian Kelley on social media after his politically-tinged posts.
Artist presenters include Dierks Bentley, Lauren Alaina, Sara Evans, Jake Owen, CeCe Winans, and Charles Esten (also an actor from Nashville).
Other presenters include radio personality Bobby Bones, Thomas Rhett’s wife Lauren Akins, model and actress Taylor Hill, and model and actor (and famous son) Patrick Schwarzenegger.
Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Jenee Fleenor, and Ashley McBryde will open the presentation with a tribute to Charlie Daniels.
Jon Pardi will pay tribute to Joe Diffie.
Eric Church performs his new single “Hell of a View.”
Miranda Lambert performs her new single “Settling Down.”
Chris Stapleton will perform.
Jimmie Allen will sing “Best Shot.”
Gabby Barrett will sing “I Hope” featuring Charlie Puth.
Luke Combs reportedly plays “Cold As You.”
Dan + Shay will perform with Justin Bieber on the song “10,000 Hours.”
Little Big Town will pay tribute to Kenny Rogers.
Ashley McBryde performs her recent highest-charting single to date (#11), “One Night Standards.”
Reba McEntire with Darius Rucker will perform “In The Ghetto” in tribute to Mac Davis.
Maren Morris performs “The Bones.”
Old Dominion will help mark the 40th Anniversary of the film Urban Cowboy by singing Johnny Lee’s “Lookin For Love.”
Carly Pearce will perform with Charles Kelley (subbing for Lee Brice) on the duet “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”
Rascal Flatts will perform “God Bless The Broken Road.”
Darius Rucker and Lady A will collaborate on a performance.
Keith Urban will perform “God Whispered Your Name.”
Morgan Wallen will perform “More Than My Hometown.”
Kelsea Ballerini was added last minute to the performer list, and will play “Hole In The Bottle.”
Ingrid Andress will also perform.
And Thomas Rhett, Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, and Chris Tomlin will collaborate on the song “Be A Light.”
Some awards have already been handed out, including Miranda Lambert winning for Video of the Year for “Bluebird,” Carly Pierce and Lee Brice won Musical Event of the Year for “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”
Entertainer of the Year
Album of the Year
Heartache Medication, Jon Pardi
Never Will, Ashley McBryde
Old Dominion, Old Dominion
What You See Is What You Get, Luke Combs
Wildcard, Miranda Lambert
New Artist of the Year
Male Vocalist of the Year
Female Vocalist of the Year
Vocal Duo of the Year
Brooks & Dunn
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie and Tae
Vocal Group of the Year
Little Big Town
Song of the Year
“Bluebird” (Luke Dick, Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby)
“The Bones” (Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz)
“Even Though I’m Leaving” (Luke Combs, Wyatt B. Durrette III, Ray Fulcher)
“I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Luke Combs, Randy Montana, Carly Pearce, Jonathan Singleton)
“More Hearts Than Mine” (Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis, Derrick Southerland
Single of the Year
“10,000 Hours,” Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber
“Beer Never Broke My Heart,” Luke Combs
“Bluebird,” Miranda Lambert
“The Bones,” Maren Morris
“I Hope,” Gabby Barrett
Musical Event of the Year
“10,000 Hours,” Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber
“Be a Light,” Thomas Rhett feat. Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin and Keith Urban
“The Bones,” Maren Morris with Hozier
“Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” Miranda Lambert feat. Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes and Caylee Hammack
“I Hope You’re Happy Now,” Carly Pearce and Lee Brice – WINNER
Music Video of the Year
“10,000 Hours,” Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber (Director: Patrick Tracy)
“Bluebird,” Miranda Lambert (Director: Trey Fanjoy) — WINNER
“Homemade,” Jake Owen (Director: Justin Clough)
“I Hope You’re Happy Now,” Carly Pearce and Lee Brice (Director: Sam Siske)
“Second One to Know,” Chris Stapleton (Director: David Coleman)
Musician of the Year
November 11, 2020 @ 10:14 am
And no AP coverage, as they have officially pulled out after CMA’s attempted to impose restrictions on photo coverage
November 11, 2020 @ 10:37 am
A lot of people are going to take this as the CMA’s censoring the media. But with COVID-19 restrictions and artists already pulling out due to positive tests, I think it’s at least understandable or plausible the CMAs are just trying to be careful, and don’t want roving photographers they can’t restrict making 6 feet of distance even more difficult to achieve.
I see this both ways. Yes, it seems silly the CMAs won’t even allow the AP to use screenshots. But the AP also loves to suck up all visual media tied to live events and act like they own it all exclusively, and are very litigious in that pursuit. I have interfaced with this numerous times personally. I respect the AP not wanting to cover it at all if they can’t cover it their way. That’s the same take I bring to covering live events. But they also love to monopolize events and act like they’re the only game in town, and it’s often not fair to other outlets and photographers.
These are unusual times. We all have to be flexible. This feels like two inflexible and restrictive organizations flexing their muscles.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:45 am
The AP can 100% be the 800 pound dbag gorilla, especially as it inflates its own self importance and seeks to squeeze out smaller outlets (and this isn’t limited to just country, or just music).
This feels like another misstep though by the CMA’s, for an event that already seems to be struggling to generate buzz. The screencaptures seem like the reasonable compromise of no one in the room due to covid. Seeking additional restrictions on the type of screencapures that could be used looks like another example of the CMA’s seeking to control and spin a narrative, even if that’s not the reality.
November 11, 2020 @ 11:19 am
I agree. This issue creates low-hanging fruit for politically-incited morons to post verifiably false accusations that the CMAs are restricting speech, when really this is a very specific issue dealing with still photographers and a very valid concern by the CMA to make sure they can assure social distancing for artists and staff—the same thing these very critics would hound the CMAs for if they couldn’t assure this.
The AP is telling the CMA’s, “We’re special, and if you don’t bend to our demands, we’ll take out ball and go home.” It seems like in these moments, they could be more understanding. If they give the AP rights to screenshots, that means all other outlets covering the CMAs cannot use screenshots because the AP will sue them, and that’s an unfair burden on the rest of the media who also can’t be in house.
November 11, 2020 @ 11:33 am
I think I’m reading it differently then you. It says that AP was fine with screeenshots if it could use any screenshot, including audience. And CMA was fine with screenshot, but only if AP was limited to stage shots. I’m not reading anywhere where AP would have had an exclusive licensing deal on the screenshot (unless you used the AP screenshot, which is a different deal).
I think both sides understood the no photographers due to covid, and were just trying to find a workaround (although I suspect the AP would have also been fine telling it’s photog, wear a mask and stay 6ft away).
November 11, 2020 @ 10:18 am
Hell of a View is a hell of a good song. I know its a little poppy for Church, but man I enjoy listening to it. Also, I know Ashley wants a No. 1 hit, but I was bored with One Night Standards months ago. Sometimes I think it may be better for an artist to have 3 top 20-30 songs off an album than waiting more than a year for a No. 1. Hang in There Girl should have been released months ago.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:21 am
Wait. Carrie is not performing? Seriously other than Ashley McBride there is not one person I want to watch. So I’ll catch her performance on YouTube and read Trigs take. Much more entertaining.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:38 am
Remember, Carrie Underwood was not exactly happy about what happened last year. That’s also why she pulled out of hosting. If Carrie Underwood wanted to perform, she would be. Carrie is sending a message.
November 11, 2020 @ 11:50 am
Why is Carrie being shady with the CMAs??
Garth won, fair & square.
The voting wasn’t rigged… Carrie’s true character & diva is coming out.
Plus, she’s not that great. Her best music was definitely 2006-2012.
November 11, 2020 @ 12:05 pm
It could also be the fact that the only new music she has out is Christmas music and doesn’t view that as appropriate. She may not also want to do another tribute performance like she did at the ACMs (where she also didn’t have any new non-Christmas music). She never said a peep specifically about losing EOTY last year so I would say that’s taking the high road when she very easily could’ve publicly complained about losing.
November 11, 2020 @ 12:36 pm
Funniest part of this statement “voting isn’t rigged” when every article you see is about bloc voting. When Rhett win ETOTY at ACM he thanked his label, team and Live Nation. They all have stakes in the game. Seriously. Why did Keith win over Eric? And just saw all the accomplishments Carrie had in eligibility period and she checks off all the boxes. Wouldn’t mind hearing her sing a Christmas song. But Arnold I’m definitely with you about Pardi. Loved that album. Love him.
November 11, 2020 @ 1:53 pm
So I’m not saying Carrie is right or wrong BUT put yourself in her shoes, would you act different?
November 11, 2020 @ 10:21 am
I emailed the Hall of Fame again a couple of weeks ago on the evening of Monday, October 26 about the formal induction ceremony (aka The Medallion Ceremony) for this year’s Hall of Fame inductees (Dean Dillon, Marty Stuart and Hank Williams, Jr.) asking them to combine the 2020 Medallion Ceremony with 2021 next fall (October) and in their reply back to me on the morning of Tuesday, October 27, they said:
We are hoping to honor this year’s inductees when it is safe to do so.
Then, A spokesman for the Hall of Fame told Billboard on Friday, October 30 about the Medallion Ceremony for this year’s inductees and he said:
The museum will host a medallion ceremony…as soon as we are able to gather safely.
What do you think?.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:39 am
I think they’re smart to wait. No rush. Hold the ceremony when it’s safe, and people can gather.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:29 am
the post problematic part of your reporting is the “friction breweing” between fgline, because in these times, the last thing we need is two separate recording and touring entities from the members of the duo. keep all the [doodoo] in 1 bag.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:40 am
Yeah, all the folks popping champagne for the demise of Florida Georgia Line should be careful what they wish for. First, I’ll believe it when I see it. Second, it could make things worse than better. Honestly, Brian Kelley has always be dead weight for Tyler Hubbard.
November 11, 2020 @ 12:03 pm
You wanna honor Charlie? Fine, but do it with people who actually knew him and were a part of his life and/or were inspired by him. Examples: Travis Tritt, Hank Jr, Eddie Montgomery, Gretchen Wilson, Tanya Tucker, Johnny Van Zandt, Chris Stapleton, Marty Stuart and Vince Gill. Just sayin.
November 11, 2020 @ 12:34 pm
Brian Kelley couldn’t sustain a career on his own.
November 11, 2020 @ 2:08 pm
That was was I said about Thomas Rhett when he debuted but he’s already working on album 5
November 15, 2020 @ 1:15 pm
Listen to a song where Kelley sings the lead and you will see a big difference between him and Rhett.
strait country 81
November 11, 2020 @ 10:39 am
Expecting to see Justin Bieber at the podium at least once no way they don’t hand him something just for showing.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:47 am
Some noteworthy tributes, but none worth sacrificing sleep. We have our final day of aeration tomorrow and I have to be up at 5:30 am. I’ll read the your live blog and recap and YouTube anything good tomorrow.
November 11, 2020 @ 10:58 am
Looks pretty good. Tributes are country. Good things that came before us deserve honor.
Sir Adam the Great
November 11, 2020 @ 11:38 am
Trig, you scared the fool outta me by putting Charley Pride’s picture alongside Mac, Charlie, and Kenny! My mind went, “Oh no…”
He totally deserves the Willie Nelson award.
Bill from Wisconsin
November 11, 2020 @ 2:57 pm
Yep that got me too. Only one in the group of photos still kicking.
November 11, 2020 @ 11:48 am
HEARTACHE MEDICATION FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR.
LET’S GOOOO JON PARDI
November 11, 2020 @ 12:33 pm
When the record came out I predicted he’d win either the CMA or ACM album of the year award and I’m sticking with that pick. Quality album from the top down. I will say Luke Combs album is pretty good and has some monster hits, so I’d be okay if his album wins.
November 11, 2020 @ 12:25 pm
If Jon Pardi wins Album of the Year – could you give me a shoutout again in your blog commentary? After all, I’m his #1 Fan.
I’ve been advocating for this album to be recognized for well over a year
November 11, 2020 @ 12:48 pm
Jason Aldean probably thinks Charlie Daniels is what comes in bottles
November 11, 2020 @ 12:51 pm
One thing I enjoyed about this years AMC awards were the stripped down performances. Most of the stripped down version were 1000 times better than the radio version. There are times when less is more. I really, really hope the CMA awards are the same.
November 11, 2020 @ 1:33 pm
Chris Stapleton will perform with Marty Stuart and Mavis Staples sitting in.
This I gotta see! Marty and Mavis are gold.
November 11, 2020 @ 1:54 pm
Unfortunately I just received word this was old information. Chris Stapleton is performing, but not with Marty and Mavis. My apologies.
Robert's Country Blog
November 11, 2020 @ 1:59 pm
Thanks for the clarification.
Robert's Country Blog
November 11, 2020 @ 1:57 pm
I’m curious about that bit. Chris performed with Marty and Mavis last year, but I haven’t seen anything other than this article to indicate that Marty and Mavis are part of this year’s deal.
King Honky Of Crackershire Kisses An Angel Good Morning Every Morning
November 11, 2020 @ 5:47 pm
It’s utterly disgusting that the CMA has decided to use poor ol Charley Pride, one of the 10 most beautiful voices in the history of C(c)ountry Music, as a dadblamed race token.
What a freaking disgrace to his legacy.
November 11, 2020 @ 5:52 pm
At this point, they’re all going to get covid. Lady A and Jennee Fleenor now also out with covid. They all need to stay far away from Reba
November 11, 2020 @ 8:39 pm
In my 91 years, I’ve only seen a few things as fucked as the modern state of “country” music, so naturally, I WON’T be tuning in to these awards unless the ghost of Hank Williams will be performing. Also, it’s my wife’s 60th birthday, so I have a good excuse L O L!!