CMA Awards Celebrate the Rural Lifestyle

Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line Kick Off the Show With Two Huge Hits

If mainstream country music is on the verge of abandoning themes celebrating the joys of the rural lifestyle, you wouldn’t know it by the opening moments of Wednesday night’s (Nov. 6) CMA Awards show in Nashville.

Much has been said and written lately about the merits of lyrics about pickup trucks, tailgating and dirt roads. But with pyrotechnics in the background, Luke Bryan showed up in black jeans and a sequined shirt to open the show with a spirited performance of “That’s My Kind of Night,” and Florida Georgia Line quickly joined him onstage to perform their megahit, “Cruise.”

Just a few minutes later, the duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley accepted the first trophy during the ABC telecast — the single of the year award for “Cruise.”

Awards show co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood also alluded to musical disagreements between artists during a parody of War’s 1975 pop hit, “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” by updating it with lyrics about an alleged “feud” between Zac Brown and Luke Bryan after Brown recently referred to “That’s My Kind of Night” as “the worst song I’ve ever heard.”

As Paisley and Underwood sang, Brown and Bryan — both Georgia natives — met in the aisle of Bridgestone Arena and warmly hugged each other.

Other early winners during the telecast included a vocal duo win for Florida Georgia Line and a song of the year honor for “I Drive Your Truck,” the Lee Brice hit written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary.

View complete coverage of the 47th annual CMA Awards.
Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.