CMAs return to honor the best in country music


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Barbara Chang

The highly anticipated annual Country Music Awards came back for another round on Nov. 9 after over a year-long hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though things are getting back to normal, strict COVID-19 precautions were still put in place for the 2021 CMAs. Everyone in the audience had to be fully vaccinated and have masks on during the whole show except for when they’re drinking or eating. CMA nominees sat at tables on the floor of the stadium to maintain social distancing. All the artists who were nominated had to get COVID-19 tests 24 hours before the event and had the option not to wear masks when they were sitting down.

Carly Pearce won Female Vocalist of the Year, and Old Dominion won Best Vocal Group. The Vocal Duo of the Year went to Brothers Osbourne, and Jimmy Allen was the Best New Artist. Musician of the Year went to Jenee Fleenor, and Luke Combs won Entertainer of the Year.

“Every single person that was nominated for this award this year and every year before deserves to win this. I don’t deserve to win it, but I’m sure as hell glad that I did,” Combs said during his acceptance speech, according to The Washington Post.

Chris Stapleton took home multiple awards throughout the night, including Male Vocalist of the Year and Best Album for “Starting Over.” He and Mike Henderson were awarded Song of the Year with their song, “Starting Over.”

Many unforgettable moments happened throughout the night. T.J. Osborne from the group Brothers Osborne publicly announced his homosexuality by kissing his partner before going on stage to receive the best vocal duo award of the year with his brother, John.

“It’s been a crazy roller coaster of a year for us in so many ways, especially for me emotionally, and to have you all support me, it really does feel like love wins tonight, thank you.,” Osborne said during their acceptance speech, according to Billboard.

Right before Brothers Osborne started their performance of “Younger Me,” Osborne said that he never imagined he’d get the chance to sing at the CMAs because he was afraid he wouldn’t be accepted for being gay during that period. “I always truly felt it would never be possible for me because of my sexuality to be here and I just wish my younger me could see me now,” he said, according to The Washington Post.

Mickey Guyton, Britney Spencer and Madeline Edwards went on stage and took the audience on an emotional and visual journey through their powerful vocals when they sang Guyton’s hit song, “Love My Hair.” The performance delivered a message about acceptance and displayed what’s best about country music in regards to political matters.

For the finale, Eric Church and his backup singer, Joanna Cotton, contributed a heart-throbbing performance of Church’s song, “Heart on Fire,” during which fire surrounded the stage.

Jennifer Hudson performed “The Nightlife,” one of Aretha Franklin’s hits from the movie “Respect,” which Hudson starred in. Hudson joined Stapleton right after to sing “You Are My Sunshine,” which is a pick-me-up after a beautiful serenade.

Stapleton’s depiction of his Blues track “Cold,” which tells the story of an ice queen who pushes him out of her life without any regret, lowered the temperature in the room to less than zero, metaphorically speaking. His rasping and guitar solos during the song made it seem like he was gathering inspiration from B.B. King.

Carly Perce and Ashley McBryde performed their version of the popular hit “Does He Love You” from Reba McEntire and Linda Davis while incorporating good girl and bad girl personas.

Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood also contributed a debut performance of their number one hit “If I Didn’t Love You.”