Someone asked me the other day if it was their imagination, or did country music have an award show every three months? I thought about it, did the math and replied, "actually, its closer to 2.4 months, but whose counting."
But Wednesday night, its the big one. To borrow from Toby Keith, it's the 'Big Dog Daddy' of country award shows. The Country Music Association's 51st Annual CMA Awards airs Wednesday night at 8 pm, 7 central on ABC. Hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley for the 10th time, the show will feature performances by Garth Brooks, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, as well as timeless pairings featuring Kelsea Ballerini & Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley and Kane Brown.
As you prepare for the show, we wanted to set you up with a list of the nominees for the 11 major awards (yes, this one goes to 11), as well as my predictions of the winners. Follow along, compare your predictions with mine, and enjoy the CMA Awards show.
Well, what else can we call the artist who spearheaded not only the most successful tour of 2017, a tour that when it all wraps up on December 16th in Nashville'a Bridgestone Arena, and will quite probably be the most successful tour in music history? It might even be the most successful tour since Noah ended his tour atop Mount Ararat.
Female Vocalist of the Year
In the future, I see Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini fighting it out year after year for this award. But that is the future, and right now the annual competition for this award is between Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, and with apologies to Reba McEntire, whose album Sing It Now was an incredible return to form, Carrie Underwood had the better year.
Male Vocalist of the Year
Keith Urban's album Parachute may just have been the strongest of the Aussie's career, and it will be honored. 4 number ones from the album, including the recent chart topper with Female Vocalist winner Carrie Underwood, "The Fighter" is tough to beat.
Vocal Duo of the Year
It has been Florida Georgia Line's category for a couple of years now, and this year will be no exception. A refreshing turn to their roots turned some of their staunchest detractors, and they even managed to make the Backstreet Boys acceptable to country radio.
Maddie & Tae
Florida Georgia Line
Dan + Shay
Vocal Group of the Year
4 of the 5 nominees for this award are previous winners, and the fifth one, Old Dominion, will be clearing room on their trophy shelves someday for theirs. It's been since 2008 since Rascal Flatts last took the hardware home, the longest span of the four previous winners; the drought ends this year.
Little Big Town
Zac Brown Band
Single of the Year
Awarded to Producer & Artist
I've got 35 reasons or this choice. A record setting 35 consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Digital Country Singles chart, breaks the 55 year old record for most consecutive weeks at #1 (20), and Florida Georgia Line's 4 year old record for most total weeks at #1 (24).
"Better Man" ~~ Little Big Town, producer Jay Joyce
"Blue Ain't Your Color" ~~ Keith Urban, producer Dann Huff
"Body Like A Back Road" ~~ Sam Hunt, producer Zach Crowell
"Dirt On My Boots" ~~ Jon Pardi, producer Bart Butler
"Tin Man" ~~ Miranda Lambert, producer Frank Liddell
Song of the Year
Awarded to Songwriter
For the first time in several years, the same 5 songs are nominated for Song and Single of the Year.
Shuffle the deck, though, and the results come out a little different, as Taylor Swift takes home her first CMA Award in 4 years, her twelfth over all, and first for songwriting.
"Dirt On My Boots" ~~ Rhett Aikens, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley
"Tin Man" ~~ Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall
"Blue Ain't Your Color" ~~ Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Lee Olson
"Better Man" ~~ Taylor Swift
"Body Like A Back Road" ~~ Sam Hunt, Zach Crowell, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Album of the Year
How good does an album that most people haven't heard of, by an artist that not a lot of day-to-day country fans know, have to be to be nominated for a major award?
Then think how good Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit's The Nashville Sound is when it wins.
The Breaker ~~ Little Big Town
From A Room: Volume 1 ~~ Chris Stapleton
Heart Break ~~ Lady Antebellum
The Nashville Sound ~~ Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
The Weight of These Wings ~~ Miranda Lambert
New Artist of the Year
In a year when all five nominees for the "rookie of the year" award had AT LEAST 2 number 1 singles, the one that may have had the best debut album in country music history should take home the hardware.
It's Brett Young's year.
Musical Event of the Year
Sometime you vote with your mind, and sometimes you vote with your heart.
This year, in this category, the heart wins out.
"Speak To A Girl" ~~ Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
"Setting The World On Fire" ~~ Kenny Chesney ft Pink
"Kill A Word" ~~ Eric Church ft Rhiannon Giddens
"Funny How Time Slips Away" ~~ Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson
"Craving You" ~~ Thomas Rhett with Maren Morris
Music Video of the Year
Stylish, simple, classy. Maybe the best song of Keith Urban's career. Good thing the video is up to par with the song.
Awarded to Artist and Director
"Vice" ~~ Miranda Lambert, director Trey Fanjoy
"It Ain't My Fault" ~~ Brothers Osborne, director Wes Edwards & Ryan Silver
"Craving You" ~~ Thomas Rhett ft Maren Morris, director TK McKamy
"Blue Ain't Your Color" ~~ Keith Urban, director Carter Smith
"Better Man" ~~ Little Big Town, director Becky Fluke & Reid Long