2017 CMA Awards Preach Unity, Crown Garth Brooks Entertainer

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The 51st annual CMA Awards did not begin with an all-star efficiency on Wednesday evening, though it bought to a kind of rapidly sufficient. It opened as an alternative with Eric Church alone on a half-lit stage, singing “Amazing Grace.” Country music has been battered in current weeks, and this awards gala – the primary to happen for the reason that brutal deaths of greater than 50 followers at Route 91 Harvest pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1st – did not shrink back from that reality.

Church’s efficiency recalled Jason Aldean’s chilly open final month on Saturday Night Live, lower than per week after his set at Route 91 was interrupted by the capturing spree of Stephen Paddock. Segueing straight into Darius Rucker’s all-star sing-along of Hootie & the Blowfish’s 1994 hit “Hold My Hand,” the opening set the tone for a way the CMAs would deal with that tragedy: by turning to God and, for the primary of many occasions throughout the night, to music from all corners.

“We do what families do,” Carrie Underwood mentioned throughout the opening monologue. “We come together and we pray together.” Her cohost, Brad Paisley, took a sturdy tone, declaring, “The best thing to do is sing our music loud and proud.” Later on, Underwood delivered a touching tribute to those that misplaced their lives in Las Vegas throughout her candlelit In Memoriam efficiency of “Softly and Tenderly.”

The CMAs’ efforts at therapeutic proved to be a blended bag, and the monologue performed a component. Underwood and Paisley, who celebrated their 10th yr cohosting the occasion, joked in regards to the “guidelines” mandating the awards present as a politics-free zone, spinning it right into a bit mocking President Donald Trump. But the context wasn’t very humorous: Organizers had tried to bar point out of subjects like gun management, thereby stifling dialog of the problems that make tragedies like Route 91 or final Sunday’s mbad killing at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas doable within the first place.

Those tips had been finally retracted, however the artists remained on their finest habits Wednesday evening. The statements of the night had been left to somebody like Keith Urban, who made the dwell debut of his brand-new music “Female,” which had premiered earlier within the day. Written as a response to the badual badault scandals which have reached from Hollywood to Nashville, it was well-meaning however barely tone deaf contemplating there wasn’t a single lady on the stage.

It did not badist that among the greatest upsets of the night tended to go in favor of male performers, who had been the one ones nominated for Entertainer of the Year – an honor Garth Brooks claimed for the second straight yr. On a couple of event, these upsets went particularly towards Miranda Lambert. While she got here away with Female Vocalist of the Year honors, it felt like a comfort prize on condition that she had already missed out on Album, Song, and Single of the Year (the final of these going to Urban), every of which she deserved to win.

Lambert, who praised Urban for “Female,” responded by delivering one of many standout performances of the evening together with her understated “To Learn Her,” a refined remark of her personal from The Weight of These Wings. As Lambert proved on the ACM Awards final spring together with her rendition of “Tin Man,” much less might be extra at these star-studded occasions, a incontrovertible fact that Pink bolstered a short while after. This yr’s big-name visitor from the pop world, a lot as Beyoncé had been final yr, Pink sang a haunting “Barbies” from a stool, surrounded by feminine musicians.

If the CMAs’ efforts at unity had been hit and miss – significantly when Dan + Shay coated the Youngbloods’ “Get Together,” a music that was on message however wholly misplaced – the night hit the precise observe with a lot of its tributes. Alan Jackson had the chance to carry out twice, together with closing out the present, whereas Brothers Osborne, who repeated as Vocal Duo of the Year winners, ripped by means of Don Williams’ hard-nosed basic “Tulsa Time” on the finish of their very own “It Ain’t My Fault.”

Country music has misplaced a variety of stars in 2017, and probably the most emotional tribute was that paid to Troy Gentry, which noticed his Montgomery Gentry accomplice Eddie Montgomery sing “My Town” with Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts. But one other was equally efficient by as soon as once more preserving issues easy, as Little Big Town had been joined on piano by Jimmy Webb to sing “Wichita Lineman,” a music that Webb wrote almost 50 years in the past for Glen Campbell.

“Tonight should be about harmony and doing what we can together to change things,” mentioned Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild in one of many evening’s most pointed items of commentary because the band accepted the award for Vocal Group of the Year. “We can actually change things with the way they’re going, we just have to step out.”

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