Keith Urban won Entertainer of the Year at the 2018 Country Music Association Awards. He appeared to be genuinely shocked and brought to tears by the honor. This the second time he has won the big award.
“I feel very, very blessed and very, very grateful to be able to do what I do,” said Urban.
He thanked his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, watching from the audience, and his children, along with members of his team.
Urban wasn’t the only the big winner.
Chris Stapleton cleaned house with three CMA awards.
The singer-songwriter, who has won at the CMAs every year since 2015, picked up multiple awards during the show Wednesday night, including single and song of the year for his Grammy-winning hit, “Broken Halos.”
When he won single of the year — where he won as a performer and producer — Stapleton said he was “thinking about the people in California right now” and he wanted to “dedicate this award to them.”
He was referring to the 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country music bar last week — who were also honored at the top of the show held at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
Garth Brooks opened the CMAs by telling the audience that the event would be “dedicated to the 12 individuals who we lost far too soon just a week ago tonight at the Borderline in Thousand Oaks, California.
“Tonight let’s celebrate their lives. Let the music unite us with love,” Brooks said.
He then held a moment of silence as the names of the victims were displayed on the screen.
The CMAs, airing live on ABC, also took time to speak about the deadly wildfires in California.
“We send our love to you,” said co-host Carrie Underwood, also mentioning the “brave firefighters.”
Underwood kept the positive and uplifting theme going when she gave a rousing performance of her song “Love Wins.” It features the lyrics, “I believe you and me are sisters and brothers/And I believe we’re made to be here for each other.”
Dan + Shay, who lost in all four categories they were nominated in, gave an impressive performance of their hit “Tequila.” When Brothers Osborne won vocal duo of the year, John Osborne said, “I thought this was going to go to Dan + Shay. Make some noise for those boys.”
“I don’t know why we keep winning this,” John Osborne said when he first walked onstage.
“If this was in Florida there definitely would be a recount,” added T.J. Osborne, which earned laughs from the audience.
Luke Combs, who has the year’s most-streamed country music album, sang onstage with a red cup in his hand and won new artist of the year.
“God, I love country music, man,” said Combs.
Brooks performed a touching new song dedicated to his wife, Trisha Yearwood, who was teary-eyed and was hearing the song for the first time. Recent Country Hall of Famer Ricky Skaggs performed alongside Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.
Kacey Musgraves, who also performed during the show, was the only woman nominated for album of the year and won the prize for “Golden Hour.”
“This is really, really crazy timing — 10 years ago today I moved to Nashville. That’s so crazy,” she said. “I’m so proud it. It’s inspired by this beautiful universe, and all of you, and mostly love.”
Underwood and Paisley returned as CMA hosts for the 11th time this year, telling jokes at the top of the show, which ranged from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” to Underwood’s pregnancy.
Underwood seemingly revealed a secret about the child, saying it will be a “Willie” after Paisley repeatedly asked about the sex of the baby.
Underwood, who won female vocalist of the year, said it is tough picking between friends when it comes to voting.
“When I vote, I legitimately try to look at who deserves it,” she said. “I know that you root for everybody, you’re glad that everybody’s there, you’re glad your friends are nominated for things, but I just try to think who’s killing it, who’s crushing it this year.”