CMA Awards Ratings Remain Steady, Lead Primetime Slots

The 55th Annual CMA Awards topped all of primetime on Wednesday night (Nov. 10), reaching 6.9 million total viewers and earning a 1.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic, according to Deadline. Compared to last year’s ceremony, which reached 6.82 million viewers and earned a 1.1 rating in the same demographic, the 2021 show remained relatively steady.

The 2020 event saw a 40% decrease in viewership from the previous year, which reached 11.27 million viewers with a 2.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

Though the awards did top of all the primetime slots, it was only by a slim margin. CBS’ Survivor and Fox’s The Masked Singer both earned a 0.9 rating with 5.36 million viewers and 3.82 viewers, respectively. Additionally, NBC’s Chicago Fire saw 6.41 million viewers.

Luke Combs Confirms Handful Of 2022 Stadium Tour Dates

Luke Combs. Photo: Zack Massey

Newly-crowned CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs is launching a mini headlining stadium tour next year that will include performances at Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High on May 21, Seattle’s Lumen Field on June 4, and Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on July 30. Special guests on the dates include Cody Johnson, Zach Bryan and Morgan Wade.

Tickets for the newly confirmed shows will be available for pre-sale starting next Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. local time through Ticketmaster Verified Fan, with general on-sale following on Nov. 19.

Combs surprise-released his new song, “Doin’ This,” a personal reflection on his own life and career, earlier this week, debuting it live during the CMA Awards broadcast. His current single, “Cold As You,” is Top 5 and rising at radio, and is his seventh single released from What You See Ain’t Always What You Get. Combs also recently released his new song “South On Ya,” which has been selected as the official theme song for the SEC Network’s 2021 football season.

“This week has been a whirlwind–got to debut a new song on the CMAs, release the song and music video to my fans, and announce three stadium shows at NFL stadiums. Talk about a week! It will be hard to top this one,” admits Combs.

Luke Combs Tour Dates:
Nov. 16—New Orleans, LA—Smoothie King Center
Nov. 18—Dallas, TX—American Airlines Center
Nov. 19—Dallas, TX—American Airlines Center
Nov. 20—Memphis, TN—FedEx Forum
Nov. 29—New York, NY—Madison Square Garden
Nov. 30—New York, NY—Madison Square Garden
Dec. 2—Boston, MA—TD Garden
Dec. 3—Boston, MA—TD Garden
Dec. 15—Las Vegas, NV—T-Mobile Arena
Dec. 16—Salt Lake City, UT—Vivint Smart Home Arena
March 11, 2022—Glasgow, Scotland—C2C Festival at The SSE Hydro
March 12, 2022—Dublin, Ireland—C2C Festival at 3Arena
March 13, 2022—London, England—C2C Festival at The O2
March 20, 2022—Toronto, ON—Scotiabank Arena
March 21, 2022—Toronto, ON—Scotiabank Arena
March 24, 2022—Ottawa, ON—Canadian Tire Centre
March 26, 2022—Quebec City, QC—Videotron Centre
March 28, 2022—Montreal, QC—Centre Bell
March 30, 2022—London, ON—Budweiser Gardens
March 31, 2022—London, ON—Budweiser Gardens
May 1, 2022—Indio, CA—Stagecoach
May 21, 2022—Denver, CO—Empower Field at Mile High
June 4, 2022—Seattle, WA—Lumen Field
July 7, 2022—Cavendish, PEI—Cavendish Beach Music Festival
July 9, 2022—Ottawa, ON—RBC Bluesfest
July 23, 2022—Columbus, OH—Buckeye Country Superfest
July 30, 2022—Atlanta, GA—Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown To Perform On ‘2021 American Music Awards’

Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, and Kane Brown are set to perform on the upcoming 2021 American Music Awards on Nov. 21 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and hosted by Cardi B.

The three will be featured during a new “My Hometown” segment of the telecast which will showcase the towns, humble beginnings, influential individuals and mentors that helped shape today’s superstars.

During the ABC broadcast, Underwood will join fellow 2021 nominee Aldean for a special performance of their smash duet “If I Didn’t Love You.” Meanwhile five-time AMA winner Brown will perform at Tennessee State University, a notable HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Brown will give fans a look into his Tennessee and Georgia roots and personal journey as an artist along with performing his latest single “One Mississippi.”

Sony Music Nashville Ups Scott Stachelski To Sr. VP, Finance

Scott Stachelski. Photo: Matt Berinato

Sony Music Nashville has elevated Scott Stachelski to Senior Vice President, Finance.

In Stachelski’s new role, he will continue to oversee the finance department and Sony Music Nashville’s day to day financial operations, including internal and external reporting, deal analysis, forecasting, budgeting and analysis. He joined Sony Music Nashville as Director of Finance in 2006, and rose to his previous position of Vice President of Finance in 2017.

Stachelski is a Clark, New Jersey native and a graduate of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business with a BBA in Public Accounting and a CPA. Prior to moving to Nashville, he was Director of Financial Reporting for Sony BMG Entertainment and Senior Internal Auditor for BMG Entertainment.

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Ken Robold, says: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to promote someone of Scott’s caliber, both as a professional and as a person. In addition to his in-depth knowledge of all elements of Label Finance, Scott continually demonstrates his understanding of all the nuances of label decision making, which makes him an invaluable employee and a great teammate.”

“I would like to thank Ken Robold for his leadership and support,” adds Stachelski. “I am humbled and honored to continue overseeing the finance team. It is privilege to work with Sony Music Nashville’s extremely talented staff and gifted roster of artists with Randy Goodman at the helm.”

Stachelski can be reached at [email protected].

Morgan Wallen Hits No. 1 On MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart

Morgan Wallen returns to country radio topping the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart this week with “Sand In My Boots.” The single appears on Wallen’s record breaking album, Dangerous: The Double Album. This is Wallen’s first single back at radio after being temporarily removed from major radio conglomerates’ stations following his use of a racial slur in February.

“Sand In My Boots” was written by Ashley Gorley, Michael Hardy, Josh Osborne. The writers currently sit at No. 1, No. 3, and No. 7 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

Wallen has been back on the road, playing one-off shows across the United States. He held his “Morgan Wallen And Friends” acoustic benefit concert in September, and raised over $725,000 for The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and the Tennessee Emergency Response Fund to immediately assist victims of the severe September storms and flooding in Humphreys County and other parts of Middle Tennessee.

Click here to view the latest edition of The MusicRow Weekly containing the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart and the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

AIMP Nashville Board Forms New Young Professional Committee

Pictured (top row, L-R): Mike Giangreco, Ciara Shortridge, Taylor Lamb, Jake Gear, Sophie Moll, Jamie Bruno, Maurna Donovan, Raleigh Berschback, Harrison Sokoloff; (bottom row, L-R) Nina Jenkins, Megan Pekar, Shaina Botwin, MaryAnn Keen, Lauren Lieu.

The Nashville Chapter Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) has formed its inaugural AIMP Nashville Young Professional Committee.

The Young Professional Committee’s primary purpose is to educate, inform, and share insight on the inner workings of independent music publishing, while also encouraging and involving members in the young professional music community.

“One of our most important goals at AIMP Nashville is to strengthen our independent publishing community by educating and inspiring the next generation of leaders in our field. Each member of our Young Professional Committee is a testament to the success of that approach,” says John Ozier, national chair of the AIMP and president of the AIMP Nashville Chapter. “These talented young executives represent the future of Nashville independent music publishing, and we are excited to work with them as they innovate new ways to engage our community.”

The AIMP Nashville Young Professional Committee will hold their first event, “The Masked Singer of Music Row,” on Jan. 11 at a location to be announced. The event will feature some of Music Row’s favorite industry executives as they disguise themselves and perform. AIMP committee members are invited to attend for free, and non-members will be able to purchase a ticket to the show. For more information, click here.

AIMP Nashville Young Professional Committee Members:
Raleigh Berschback (The MLC)
Shaina Botwin (Boom Music Group)
Jamie Bruno (Eclipse Music Group)
Maurna Donovan (Wrensong Entertainment)
Jake Gear (Hang Your Hat Music)
Mike Giangreco (Big Loud Publishing)
Nina Jenkins (Jody Williams Songs)
MaryAnn Keen (BMI)
Taylor Lamb (RED Creative)
Lauren Lieu (Play It Again Publishing)
Sophie Moll (JRM Publishing)
Megan Pekar (Loeb & Loeb)
Ciara Shortridge (Curb/Word Publishing)
Harrison Sokoloff (King Pen Music)
Alex Tamashunas (Creative Nation)
Senior Advisor – Courtney Crist (Anthem Entertainment)
Senior Advisor – Ree Guyer (Wrensong Entertainment)

Blake Shelton, Ryman Hospitality Properties Announce Plans For Ole Red Expansion To Vegas

Pictured (L-R): WSM Radio Host Bill Cody, Blake Shelton and Ryman Hospitality Properties Chairman/CEO Colin Reed. Photo: Erika Goldring

A new Ole Red location in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip is slated to open in 2023. Blake Shelton joined Ryman Hospitality Properties yesterday at a press conference to announce plans for the new venue, marking the brand’s sixth location.

Located in front of Caesars Entertainment’s Bally’s Las Vegas at the Grand Bazaar Shops, the planned Ole Red Las Vegas project will be the company’s first Western location. The company revealed plans to spend approximately $30 million developing the four-story building, which will feature a main dining floor and two additional guest floors overlooking a central stage with state-of-the-art video, acoustics and lighting.

Renderings of the Las Vegas Ole Red location.

Guests will also enjoy food, beverages and a live music experience on an expansive 4,500 square-foot rooftop while taking in the Las Vegas cityscape. The Shelton-inspired menu will feature food and cocktails that are unique to the Las Vegas location and infused with southern hospitality. At approximately 27,000 square feet with a planned 686 seats, Ole Red Las Vegas is slated to be the brand’s largest location to date.

“I know what it’s like to be a young musician playing bars and small venues, never knowing what to expect. I’m proud that we’re building a network of places where artists can get the kind of exposure playing live that is so critical for growing their fan base,” said Shelton. “Having these locations for artists to play in different parts of the country is a dream come true.”

“Las Vegas is one of the most important leisure playgrounds on the planet with over 40 million tourists a year,” added Colin Reed, chairman and chief executive officer of Ryman Hospitality Properties. “As we expand this brand into tourist and convention-focused markets, Las Vegas is a natural fit since many of its top feeder markets are home to high concentrations of country lifestyle consumers. We are excited to have the opportunity to develop a flagship Ole Red location on such a coveted piece of commercial real estate within the Caesars Entertainment empire where over 100,000 people walk by each day.”

Big Machine Label Group Celebrates CMA Award Win

Pictured (L-R): Big Machine Records’ Kris Lamb and Erik Powell, CMA Female Vocalist of the Year winner Carly Pearce, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Records’ Clay Hunnicutt and Samantha Kane. Photo: Erika Goldring

Big Machine Label Group celebrated several performers and one winner after this year’s 55th Annual CMA Awards.

Held live and in-person at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, BMLG’s Carly Pearce took home her first win for Female Vocalist of the Year. Pearce has had a banner year, releasing her acclaimed project 29, being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and launching her first true headlining tour. She said backstage, “You have to know and understand how badly I wanted to win Female Vocalist of the Year as a little girl. I would watch the CMA Awards, see all the women who’d come before and dream one day I might be up there, too. But when it happens? When you’re in the moment? Nothing can prepare you for that, and it’s even more powerful, more exciting than anything I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Pearce also gave a flawless performance of her current single, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” alongside duet partner Ashley McBryde.

Big Machine recording artist Thomas Rhett also offered viewers his “Country Again” from a stripped down set. Lady A and Florida Georgia Line were also in attendance to present.

Click here to read more about the 55th Annual CMA Awards.

Pictured (back row, L-R): Big Machine Records’ Clay Hunnicutt, Big Machine Label Group’s Jake Basden, Midland’s Mark Wystrach, Big Machine Label Group’s Andrew Kautz, Tyler Rich, Ayron Jones, Badflower’s Joey Morrow, Heath Sanders, Big Machine Label Group’s Allison Jones, Big Machine Label Group’s Mike Rittberg, Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar; (front row, L-R): Midland’s Jess Carson, Midland’s Cameron Duddy, Callista Clark, Abbey Cone, Big Machine Label Group’s Sandi Spika Borchetta, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta, Carly Pearce, Danielle Bradbery, Conner Smith, Tiera. Photo: Erika Goldring

Pictured (L-R): Lady A’s Dave Haywood, Callista Clark, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta, Lady A’s Hillary Scott, Lady A’s Charles Kelley, BMLG Records’ Jimmy Harnen and Matthew Hargis. Photo: Erika Goldring

Pictured (back row, L-R): The Valory Music Co.’s George Briner, Tyler Rich, Conner Smith, Heath Sanders, Big Machine Label Group’s Mike Rittberg; (front row, L-R): Tiera, Big Machine Label Group’s Allison Jones, The Valory Music Co.’s Ashley Sidoti. Photo: Erika Goldring

Pictured (L-R): Big Machine Music’s Michelle Attardi, Eric Paslay, Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar, Laura Veltz, Big Machine Music’s Alex Heddle. Photo: Erika Goldring

From YEP Mixers To Guiding A Star In The Making: Meet Andrew Cohen [Interview]

Andrew Cohen. Photo: Jason Myers

Andrew Cohen knew from a young age that he had a special interest in the business side of the music industry. After reading about Belmont University and eventually attending in 2008, he could’ve never guessed how his interest in tracking his favorite songs in Country Weekly would put him where he is now: the owner of Cohencidence Projects and managing one of the hottest rising country acts of 2021, Brittney Spencer.

Graduating from Belmont in 2009, Cohen spent his first year out of college trying to get his foot in the door of Nashville’s music business, including a four-month stint at a booking agency that wasn’t the right fit.

In 2011, Cohen co-founded YEP–Young Entertainment Professionals–which today acts as a critical, free tool for young jobseekers in the music industry to network and learn the business, as well as a resource for professional development. The organization held educational events and mixers with Cohen at the helm for nearly six years before his departure.

“YEP was based on me and my friends getting out of Belmont and being thrust into the industry with no safety net,” Cohen explains to MusicRow. “The day that the idea started, I was at Tin Roof with MaryAnn Keen [of BMI] and she mentioned somebody that I didn’t know. I was like, ‘How do I not know all of your friends? All we do is hang out in bars while we don’t have jobs. I should know people you know and you should know people I know.” So, the two co-founded YEP.

In October of 2011, Cohen got a job at Crush Management under John Grady‘s leadership. Over his five year tenure, Cohen became a jack of all trades. Starting off as a day-to-day manager for Kristen Kelly, Cohen worked with Striking Matches and Ashley Monroe during the week, while spending the weekends with Kelly on Brad Paisley‘s tour. Cohen also began running marketing for the management company’s Nashville office and eventually took on the marketing for Grady’s I.R.S. Records in 2013.

However, he missed being in the trenches with the artists. Cohen left to start up his own management company, which only lasted for a few years. Since then, he has found success consulting through his own Cohencidence Projects, and filling a special niche that he feels was missing in the artist’s toolbox.

Brittney Spencer and her team at UTA. Pictured (L-R): Emily Wright (UTA), Jeffrey Hasson (UTA), Brittney Spencer, Andrew Cohen (Cohencidence Projects)

“At first, it was mainly DSP promotion and helping independent artists land on playlists to get their music heard. I’ve worked on DSP promotion projects with Kameron Marlowe, Brandon Davis, and Andrew Jannakos, who we launched a song with that hit No. 12 on Billboard,” Cohen says. “I found a niche within the industry that was really needed to help artists get their music heard by editors at Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and Pandora.”

He continues, “It led me back into management. I ended up signing Andrew and Brittney last year and it’s been a wild year. It’s been really fun and I get to do my favorite part, which is being at the very beginning with an artist and helping to build a team.”

Of Cohencidence Projects, he says: “It’s built to be whatever iteration it needs to be for an artist. I’ve done management consulting where I’ve helped an artist [in a pseudo-manager role] over the years. He’s got a great head on his shoulders and he really knows what he wants to do. He just needed some help executing it from time to time and somebody to bounce ideas off of.” He adds, “For artists out there that really know how to work independently or don’t have the funds to have a manager yet, I help whoever needs it.”

Cohen’s biggest leap came with country newcomer Brittney Spencer, who just this year was named People Magazine‘s One to Watch, a 2021 Spotify Hot Country Artist to Watch, a Pandora 2021 Artist to Watch, and is a member of CMT Next Women of Country. Just last night (Nov. 10) Spencer performed alongside Mickey Guyton and Madeline Edwards at the CMA Awards.

Having met Spencer six years ago at a YEP event, Cohen began working with the young act with DSP promotion for her 2020 Compassion EP. With each single release, the pair started to see better and better responses from the DSPs. After releasing her viral cover of The Highwomen‘s “Crowded Table,” and receiving a name drop from The Highwomen’s Maren Morris at the 2020 CMA Awards, Spencer and Cohen have seen a busy year full of collaborations, performances, and building out the right artist team.

Brittney Spencer & Andrew Cohen. Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Cohen

“This has been a massive year of growth and we’re starting to navigate what her team looks like as we roll into next year… We’re trying to surround her with the right people to help amplify everything we’re doing,” Cohen offers. “I’m still learning a ton as we go. Every artist is so drastically different with what they need and what their team looks like.”

He continues, “It seems like every two weeks something drops into Brittney’s world. Opportunities are showing up and we’re chasing them. Seeing her interact and build her community has been so cool. She’s out there making noise and there’s going to be a long career here, so I’m excited to be a part of it.” Cohen adds, “I’m very glad to be back on this side. If you have the right artists, the right music, and the right story to tell, I would much rather be in the trenches with the artists telling that story. Brittney’s got so much to tell and that’s where people are connecting with her story.”

While the world was navigating their way through a raging pandemic, Cohen and Spencer were grateful for the ability to slow down and focus on the creative aspects of her career rather than juggling the challenges of touring with it.

“There were some advantages to the remote world because it didn’t throw [going on] the road at these artists that were emerging right away.” Cohen elaborates, “It’s pretty intensive to get players and rehearsals, and to make sure everything’s ready. During the pandemic, we could just release music, do interviews, and she was writing a ton. We were in this creative space and she got to stay in that creative space rather than balance it all at the same time.

He adds: “It was a little bit of an advantage for it to marinate a little bit, and for us to really lean in on the writing side and build relationships with her team. She’s been building it out little by little, and it was nice to be able to do that with a little less urgency.”

Along the way, Cohen has had his fair share of people champion him, among them are some Nashville music business heavy hitters, such as Beth Laird, Jody Williams, and Leslie Roberts. He notes that Grady, his former boss, has been one of his biggest supporters and teachers throughout his career.

“He taught me everything I know about the business. He was so great about letting us get to know his contacts, which is something that I hope to do down the road. He opened up his Rolodex and said, ‘Those contacts are yours. The people I’ve built relationships with, you can build relationships with too.’”

CMA Awards Recap: Big Night For Stapleton, Combs, & Pearce, Among Others

Pictured: Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson accept the Song of the Year award for “Starting Over” at The 55th Annual CMA Awards. Photo: John Russell/CMA

The Country Music Association returned to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena last night (Nov. 10) for its 55th Annual CMA Awards, after it was held for a limited audience at the Music City Center last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted by Luke Bryan for the first time, the evening was filled with several great performances, social statements, and lots of Chris Stapleton.

Bryan, a two-time Entertainer of the Year, kicked his first time hosting off with a monologue that included some shade for his lack of nominations this year, jokes over COVID protocols, praise to the Atlanta Braves for winning the World Series, and playful introductions for his friends in the audience. Throughout the night other stars—including fellow American Idol judges Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, as well as Lady A, Darius Rucker, Elle King, and more—appeared to “help” Bryan out with his new hosting gig.

Pictured (L-R): Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry. Photo: John Russell/CMA

Stapleton, who with Eric Church was the most nominated artist of the night with five each, made his way to the winner’s podium four times last night. His first win went to him and songwriter Mike Henderson for their hit “Starting Over” winning Song of the Year. Stapleton spoke a few words, then turned it to his co-writer Henderson, who “showed [Stapleton] how to write songs.” The country songwriter shared the honor with his songwriting mentors, Gary Nicholson, Wally Wilson, Kevin Welch, and John Hadley.

Stapleton then won Single of the Year for “Starting Over,” Album of the Year for his project of the same name, and Male Vocalist of the Year. By the time the powerful singer accepted his fourth award of the night, he had run out of things to say.

At one point in the night, Stapleton showed off why he’s a CMA favorite with a sultry performance of his “Cold.” The talented musician, backed by his band and a string section, gave a flawless performance. As usual, the audience ate it up. He also backed Jennifer Hudson for a stellar tribute to Aretha Franklin. The two world-class singers did a rendition of “Night Life,” a song originally written and recorded by Willie Nelson and later recorded by Franklin, followed by a duet of “You Are My Sunshine,” the Jimmie Davis-penned classic that both Franklin and Nelson also recorded.

In a moment where audience members and fans at home were holding their breath, actors Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins, who are both playing in Jason Owen‘s budding TV show Monarch, presented most controversial award of the night, Album of the Year. After a long pause filled with screaming fans anticipating the winner, the two announced that Stapleton beat out Church’s Heart, Carly Pearce‘s 29, Brothers Osborne‘s Skeletons, and most notably, Morgan Wallen‘s blockbuster album Dangerous: The Double Album. Wallen was not invited to attend the CMA Awards because of an incident that occurred earlier this year when a video surfaced of the singer using a racial slur outside his Nashville home. Despite being barred from attending the show, he was eligible to be nominated for categories that honor artistic works (Single, Song, Album, Musical Event, and Music Video of the Year categories).

“I want to say thank you to everyone who listened to the record,” Stapleton said of his album, Starting Over. “There was a lot of great records in this category.”

Pictured: Luke Combs accepts the Entertainer of the Year Award. Photo: Josh Brasted/CMA

The only award that Stapleton was nominated for and didn’t win, Entertainer of the Year, went to a first-time winner. Alan Jackson presented the night’s top honor. The Country Music Hall of Fame member said, “I can tell you from experience, when you stand up here and they call your name, it really brings you down to earth to realize all the great people who have come before you like Haggard and Jones, Charley Pride, Loretta, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and so many more.” He wasted no time pausing for dramatic effect when reading the winner’s name. Cheers abounded when he revealed that Luke Combs was the CMA Entertainer of the Year for the first time ever.

The artist was stunned. “I’m at a loss for words, Alan Jackson said my name…twice!

“I have never written a speech for something like this, which is not serving me very well right now. I just want to thank everybody in this room: the fans, every artist in this room,” Combs said. “I don’t deserve to win this, but I’m sure as hell glad I did. Thank y’all so much!” The young country star also debuted a brand new song last night, “Doin’ This,” which talked about what he would be doing if he wasn’t dominating the country charts.

Another first-time winner in their category, Carly Pearce took home Female Vocalist of the Year. Christian artists Amy Grant and Lauren Daigle presented the award to Pearce, and fellow nominee Ashley McBryde brought the emotional singer-songwriter up the stage. “There’s a lot of love, respect and admiration in this category,” McBryde said as Pearce gathered herself to speak.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted in the entire world,” Pearce said, thanking her team members before doubling over with emotion.

Pictured: Carly Pearce accepts the Female Vocalist of the Year Award. Photo: John Russell/CMA

Other top winners included Old Dominion, who won Vocal Group of the Year for the fourth time and performed their latest hit, “I Was On A Boat That Day.”

Brothers Osborne clinched Vocal Duo of the Year for the fourth time, as well. Brothers TJ and John Osborne walked up to a thunderous applause when accepting their award. “It’s been a crazy rollercoaster of a year in so many ways, especially for me emotionally,” said TJ, who came out as gay earlier this year. “To have you all support me, it really does feel like love wins tonight.” The crowd went wild for both TJ and John, who later performed their song inspired by TJ’s experience, “Younger Me.”

An emotional Jimmie Allen was awarded the New Artist of the Year award. “Five years ago I spent my last $100 and came to the CMA 50th to watch Charley Pride perform on stage. And I got to perform with him last year,” Allen remembered before listing off his thank you’s. He gave a special shout out to Ash Bowers, who signed him after 10 years of hard work. Later on Allen showed off his vocal talent and skillful dance moves with a performance of “Freedom Was A Highway.”

Some standout performances of the night included a medley of hits from Miranda Lambert, the birthday girl, who kicked the set off with “Kerosene.” The high-energy performance included flames shooting up behind her that harkened back to her 2005 CMA Awards performance of the same song. She also played snippets of “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Bluebird,” “Little Red Wagon,” and “Gunpowder & Lead” as the audience rocked along to her ambush of hits.

Gal pals Pearce and McBryde sounded great on their new duet, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” and Thomas Rhett, clad in a flannel shirt and jeans, gave a sweet performance on his “Country Again.”

Pictured (L-R): Madeline Edwards, Mickey Guyton, and Brittney Spencer perform “Love My Hair.” Photo: Donn Jones/CMA

A young girl, Faith Fennidy, introduced Mickey Guyton‘s performance by letting the crowd know that Guyton’s ode to self-acceptance, “Love My Hair,” was inspired by Fennidy getting sent home from school because of her braids. “This next artist created this song to make sure girls like me feel seen and loved,” Fennidy said. “That’s how you turn something very painful into something very positive.”

Guyton was joined by Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards for the stunning performance. Guyton anchored the performance, while Spencer added gorgeous, honeyed melodies and Edwards lended her smokey, sultry voice for a stunning moment.

Musician of the Year, fiddle player Jenee Fleenor, backed country superstar Blake Shelton as he sang his rocking ditty about reincarnation, “Come Back As A Country Boy.” The CMA also awarded Sarah Michaud, PEOPLE Magazine’s Senior News Editor, with the 2021 CMA Media Achievement Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of print and internet journalists, columnists, authors, editors, television writers, producers and bookers and syndicated radio reporters in the media as they relate to country music.

Nominees Kane Brown and Chris Young preformed their infectious hit “Famous Friends” as yearbook photos of country hitmakers appeared on the screen behind the stars.

Overall, the night celebrated country music, its growing commitment to acceptance, and its emergence from the hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. To view a full list of winners, click here.