Wednesday, November 10, 2021
– Despite the dominance of Chris Stapleton for most of the night at the Country Music Association awards, Luke Combs won the biggest honor of the evening - Entertainer of the Year - at the 55th annual Country Music Awards oN Wednesday.
Combs seemed as surprised as anyone. "I'm really kind of at a loss for words. Alan Jackson said my name twice just now, but I honestly don't know what to say. I have never written a speech for something like this which has not served me well...I don't deserve to win this, but I'm sure as hell glad that I did."
Stapleton had a great night with "Starting Over" as the song won Song and Single of the Year. He also won Album of the Year for "Starting Over" and Male Vocalist of the Year.
Stapleton and Mike Henderson won the first honors of the night with Song of the Year. Stapleton quickly handed the mic over to his long-time friend and songwriting partner. "When I first got to town, I'd never written a song in my life," said Henderson, who cited Kevin Welch among others who first helped him out.
The song also later took Single of the Year with producer Dave Cobb and engineer Vance Powell.
Old Dominion won Vocal Group of the Year for the fourth time. "Isn't this room beautiful," said lead singer Matthew Ramsey. "The first time was a shock. This is really a special thing to be able to stand up another year and be rewarded for what we absolutely love to do. I hope you out there believe in something and chase after it."
Brothers Osborne won Vocal Duo of the Year for the fourth time. "Every time that we have won this award, it never cases to be shocking...it's been a crazy rollercoaster of a year for us...especially for me emotionally," said singer TJ Osborne. He came out as gay this year.
Jimmie Allen won Best New Artist. Decked out in a pink hat, pants and vest and silver boots, Allen cried through his speech. He talked about having slept in cars and doing various jobs in Nashville after moving there from his native Delaware. Allen gave thanks to his father. "First I wanna thank my father who's no longer with us to introduce me to country music," he said.
Miranda Lambert got the night started with a medley of her hits including "Mama's Broken Heart," "Bluebird," "Kerosene" and "Gunpowder & Lead."
Eric Church turned in a reading of "Heart on Fire," while Dierks Bentley performed "Beers on Me" with HARDY and Breland. Bryan closed out the night with "I Don't Want This Night to End."
Fiddle player Jenee Fleenor won Musician of the Year.
Earlier in the day, Video of the Year went to Kelsea Ballerini (featuring Kenny Chesney) and director Patrick Tracy for "Half Of My Hometown."
"Half Of My Hometown" and Ballerini with Chesney also won Musical Event of the Year along with producers Ross Copperman and Jimmy Robbins. Ballerini also produced the song.