The 2019 CMA Awards delivered on their promise, lifting up the women of country music, celebrating their legacy, and ushering in the next generation. From a tour through the decades with its opening number to the trio of hosts that represent the gold standard of performers in any genre, the 53rd edition of Country music's biggest night put the focus on the females from all eras.
Hosts Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton led the way through the evening, honoring today's stars like Luke Combs and Blake Shelton who both walked away winners. Garth Brooks returned to the top with his seventh Entertainer of the Year award, and Maren Morris delivered a tearful tribute as she accepted the award for Album of the Year.
These are the highlights from the 2019 CMA Awards.
1 An Opening For The Ages
Talk about setting a tone. Opening with our three hosts singing - shining in blue, gold, and white - women from every decade of Country music took the stage and took a tour through some of the greatest songs of all time. With a shout out to a smiling Loretta Lynn in the crowd, Tanya Tucker, The Highwomen, Gretchen Wilson, and many many more turned in a solid ten minutes of music, celebrating their own personal "Independence Day."
2 Let’s Hear It For Our Hosts
Carrie Underwood was joined by two of her "sheros” as host, for just the latest example that all three of these amazing women are a national treasure that we must protect at all costs. “What do you call three women hosting the CMAs?” Dolly asked. “Your lucky night.”
Each host also took a turn performing, delivering three of the most show-stopping moments of the night. From Carrie Underwood's jazzy, sexy sax song to Reba getting "Fancy" and Dolly bringing the faith through an impressive medley, the hosts were the biggest stars in a room full of amazing artists. “We're doing it for all the girls watching tonight dreaming of ruling the world of country music," Reba explained from the stage. "Or maybe just ruling the world.
3 Flowers, Bubbles, and a Bar
The women brought the biggest performances of the night. Maren Morris was glowing in a field of flowers while Miranda Lambert put everyone on spin as she sang through a storm of bubbles. Still, Luke Combs and Blake Shelton came with the energy for two of the most electric appearances of the evening, and we can't forget Garth Brooks bringing an actual dive bar into the arena for his song with Shelton.
4 The Future Of Country Music
In many ways, Kelsea Ballerini was the breakout star of the 2019 CMA Awards. Ballerini completely captured the crowd with an intimate performance of "Homecoming Queen?" and led the next generation in a group version of "Girl Crush," punctuated by Little Big Town appearing along with Lindsay Ell, Runaway June, Maddie & Tae, Ashley McBryde, and Carly Pearce.
“You’re looking at the future of Country music right here,” Karen Fairchild rightly proclaimed as the last notes rang out.
5 Crossover Collaborations
The CMAs are always a place for great collaborations, and this year didn't dissappoint. P!nk and Chris Stapleton delivered an emotional ballad and the perfect blend of voices on the CMA stage. Stapleton was a compliment to P!nk’s powerful and gripping performance, never looking to step into her spotlight.
Lady Antebellum also sat beside Halsey for a touching medley of their “What If I Never Get Over You” into her “Graveyard,” fitting so nicely that the pop star seemed like a fourth member of the group. Brooks & Dunn turned it up too with Brothers Osborne for some high octane 90s Country.
6 And the Award Goes To...
Once again Garth Brooks returned to the top as Entertainer of the Year, winning for the seventh time, but it was the honest appreciation of Luke Combs winning Male Vocalist of the Year and the tearful tribute from Maren Morris as she won Album of the Year that hit the hardest.