Keith Urban won his first CMA Entertainer of the Year honor in 2005. Thirteen years later, he did it again, pulling off a stunning upset on the 52nd Annual CMA Awards Wednesday night (November 14th). “Country Music’s Biggest Night,” as the event is often called, was televised live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on ABC.
Urban seemed genuinely stunned himself as the announcement was read, hugging wife Nicole Kidman before taking the podium. He barely held back tears as he thanked Kidman, their children, and his management and label teams. Most pre-show predictions had the prestigious honor going to possibly Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan. But Urban brought it home mainly on the strength of his acclaimed album “Graffiti U,” featuring the songs “Female” and “Coming Home,” along with a sold-out national tour. Only George Strait went longer between Entertainer of the Year victories, winning his second in 1990 and his third in 2013.
Earlier in the evening, Urban delivered one of the show’s most exciting performances, perched high above the stage while delivering, appropriately enough, “Never Comin’ Down.” Most agreed that the night’s top performance belonged to the group effort from Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, gospel legend Mavis Staples, Stapleton’s wife Morgane, and Marty Stuart on a medley of “Friendship” and The Staples Singers classic, “I’ll Take You There.” The crowd whooped it up for Pistol Annies – Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley – and the trio’s rollicking “Got My Name Changed Back,” with Lambert actually playing a washboard.
Lambert also pulled double duty, collaborating with Aldean for their nominated duet, “Drowns the Whiskey.” Classic country received its due as Ricky Skaggs, newly elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and his band Kentucky Thunder showed their incredible playing prowess on “Black Eyed Suzie.” Urban and John Osborne joined in for Skaggs’ No. 1 hit, “Highway 40 Blues.”
Other highlights included new songs from Garth Brooks and show co-host Brad Paisley. Brooks debuted “Stronger Than Me,” written for his wife Trisha Yearwood, which he performed directly to her. Paisley premiered his single “Bucked Off,” complete with shredding guitar work and a nod to George Strait. Co-host Carrie Underwood was visibly moved by her win for Female Vocalist of the Year, saying, “I have been so blessed in my life.”
Kacey Musgraves scored one for the female artists, copping a much-deserved Album of the Year award for “Golden Hour.” Overall, the night’s big winner was Chris Stapleton, who took home three awards.
Here all the winners from the 2018 CMA Awards.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
“Golden Hour” Kacey Musgraves
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
“Broken Halos” Chris Stapleton
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Broken Halos” Songwriters: Mike Henderson, Chris Stapleton
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” David Lee Murphy (With Kenny Chesney)
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Mac McAnally – Guitar
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
“Marry Me” Thomas Rhett
Director: T.K. McKamy
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR