46th CMA Awards Offer Snapshot of Current Country Culture

While we work with just about every genre of music here at our Nashville mastering studio, we are well aware that our city will never be tied to any kind of music more so than Country. And this was readily apparent last week at the 46th Annual Country Music Association Awards, which was held at the Bridgestone Arena right down the road from our Music Row mastering studio.Country Music Festival Logo

We figured taking a look at the highlights from the show would provide a pretty good snapshot of the current climate of country music. We’ll start with Blake Shelton, a coach on NBC’s “The Voice,” and the unchallenged holder of the title of “Big Winner” from this year’s CMAs.

First, he took the Song of the Year prize for “Over You,” a song that he wrote with his wife Miranda Lambert honoring his brother Richie, who passed away in a car accident about 15 years ago. He also won the Male Vocalist of the Year award for the third year in a row. Lambert won the Female Vocalist of the Year, also for the third year in a row.

But the most surprising of his awards was Entertainer of the Year, the CMAs top honor. It was the first time Shelton has won the award, and his fellow nominees are some of the biggest names in Country music: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift. Even Shelton was surprised that Swift didn’t win the award.

“I didn’t think about that tonight. I was thinking there’s Taylor Swift right there,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “Really, this is pretty dumb that there’s anyone else even nominated.”Shelton and Lambert at CMA

But in fact, Swift won none of the three awards she was nominated for during the show. This is despite selling more than 1.2 million copies of her most recent album, Red, in the week before the CMAs.

This year’s award show also was notable for the amount of first-time winners. Four artists – Little Big Town, Eric Church, Thompson Square and Hunter Hayes – all brought home CMAs for the first time in their careers.

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley hosted the show for the fifth year in a row. They kept things light for most of the show, and their first performance together was a parody of the Maroon 5 hit, “Moves Like Jagger.” Instead of honoring the Rolling Stones frontman, the pair changed the song to “Moves Like Haggard” to honor the legendary Okie From Muskogee. However, the two got serious to urge viewers to donate to the America Red Cross to help with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Of course, the many musical performances were also highlights of the show. Jason Aldean opened the event with a performance of his hit “Only Way I Know.” He welcomed fellow stars Eric Church and Luke Bryan onstage to perform the song with him.

McGraw and Hill at CMATim McGraw performed “One of Those Nights,” while Zac Brown Band presented “Goodbye In Her Eyes.” Additionally, Willie Nelson was honored with the first annual Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. A special salute to Nelson included Lady Antebellum performing “Always on My Mind,” Shelton and Keith Urban playing “Whiskey River,” and McGraw and wife Faith Hill dueting on “Good Hearted Woman.” Finally, Nelson himself took the stage to play his classic “On the Road Again.”

It’s nice to see the legends are still be honored by the Country Music establishment that too often tends to place too much focus on the newcomers in the genre.