When country music’s top superstars take the stage Wednesday night (Nov. 5) for the 48th annual CMA Awards , fans will be checking out the fashion and performances, but most of the chatter on social media will be about what was said onstage.
Overwhelmed and overcome with emotion, CMA winners throughout the decades have made some fascinating observations during their acceptance speeches. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable quotes through the years:
Charley Pride, Entertainer of the Year (1971)
“I was talking with Lynn Anderson’s husband, Glenn Sutton, back there when Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys were singing, and it brought back memories of when I used to pick cotton back at home and listen to this place — this Ryman Auditorium.”
Don Schlitz, Song of the Year (1979)
“This is the first song of mine that anybody ever recorded, and I find all this very encouraging,” he said for writing Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”
Alabama, Vocal Group (1981)
“I’m the one who doesn’t sing, and I’m standing in front of the microphone,” drummer Mark Herndon noted.
Terri Gibbs, Horizon Award (1981)
“This is so exciting!” the blind singer said in accepting the first-ever trophy in the category. “Would you believe, this time last year, I was sitting home watching this on television?”
Anne Murray, Album of the Year (1984)
“It’s taken a long time,” she said after winning for A Little Good News. “This has been an elusive little critter for me. It’s only taken me 14 years to get it in my fat little hands, and it feels really good.”
Anne Murray and Dave Loggins, Vocal Duo (1985)
“Isn’t this nice?” Murray said. “I read the paper this morning, and we weren’t supposed to win.”
“That’s what I heard,” Loggins added.
Hank Williams Jr., Video of the Year (1985)
“I never thought I’d win a video award first from the CMA,” he said after “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” triumphed the first year the category was included. “I try to make a little audio, too, a little bit. But you’d have a big fight on your hands if you tried to get this away from Bocephus.”
Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet, Song of the Year (1987)
They won for writing Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever, Amen” but were also nominated in the same category for another Travis hit, “On the Other Hand.”
“I think we’re the first people to ever win and lose at the same time,” Schlitz observed. “I’m not real sure how to deal with it, but I’m going to ask Paul to go home and be philosophical and resigned. And I’m gonna go out and party all night long!”
The Judds, Vocal Duo (1988)
“You’re the melody in my life,” Naomi Judd told her daughter. “Am I the harmony in your life?
“Depends on what day it is,” Wynonna replied.
Randy Travis, Male Vocalist (1988)
“After all that, I find myself trying to remember what I just won,” he said after Dolly Parton sat on his lap in the audience while announcing him as one of the nominees.
Hank Williams Jr., Entertainer of the Year (1987)
After twice winning video of the year honors, he exclaimed, “Yeah, this is the one! This is the one old Bocephus has been looking for, I guarantee you!”
Garth Brooks, Entertainer of the Year (1991)
“It’s funny how a chubby kid can just be having fun, and they call it entertaining,” he said. “I know this embarrasses these two guys every time I say this, but I don’t think any entertainer is anything without his heroes. I love my Georges — George Strait and George Jones — and I want to thank you guys for being so good to me.”
After realizing President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara were in the audience, Brooks added, “No offense, Mr. President. I didn’t think about that. Sorry.”
Merle Haggard, Country Music Hall of Fame (1994)
“I’ve had 30 days notice. I’m not used to getting notices for such things. I’ve had notices for evictions. I had a guy call me up at one time on a Monday to tell me he was gonna whip me on Friday. I have a lot of people to thank. I’ve had a lot of help.”
Diamond Rio, Vocal Group (1994)
“We want to thank our wives for being at home while we’re not,” lead vocalist Marty Roe said.
Ray Price, Country Music Hall of Fame (1996)
“Thank you. It’s about time. I was beginning to feel like Susan Lucci.”
Buck Owens, Country Music Hall of Fame (1996)
“He stole that line — that Susan Lucci line,” Owens said of Price’s speech. “I told it to him backstage.”
Producer Mark Wright, Single of the Year (2000)
“We got this notice that said producers weren’t supposed to talk,” he said in accepting the trophy for “I Hope You Dance,” the Lee Ann Womack hit. “But I can’t read. I’m from Arkansas.”
Tim McGraw, Entertainer of the Year (2001)
“Thank you so much for what y’all have given me. I never thought that this could happen to me. I thought I’d make a few records and maybe have a few hits, maybe be able to stick around long enough to enjoy myself for a little while. I never thought I would enjoy myself this much.”
Alan Jackson, Entertainer of the Year (2002)
“There’s people that probably are more exciting onstage. I just walk out there and sing. I guess like most people, I started out walking in front of a microphone at church or some little club. Today, I still walk out in front of that microphone, and when I get out there, it’s not any award shows. There’s no media, there’s no critics. It’s just me and my music and my band and the people, and that still takes it right back to where it all started and where it ought to be. And that’s the music and the people who want to hear it, and that’s what I like about entertaining.”
Porter Wagoner, Country Music Hall of Fame (2002)
“I like to think of myself as a link between the real pioneers of country music and the stars of today and tomorrow. I’ve had the great fortune to call many legends my friends and watch some of my closest friends become legends. You’d think that when a man receives the highest award in his chosen field, his ego would go plumb through the ceiling. But you know what? I’ve never felt more humbled in my whole life than I do tonight.”
“I’m glad I could help your struggling career. It was about 31 years ago I came to this town to pursue my musical madness, and I’ve never won anything for anything — and it’s great to do it here.”
Keith Urban, Male Vocalist (2004)
“I thought I was only rounding out the category. I’m so dumbfounded, I don’t know what to say. … I feel very blessed every day, and the fans are amazing. And I just thank Nashville for letting me come and make music. It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
Gretchen Wilson, Horizon Award (2004)
“I came here last year and sat way back there in the very back and dreamed of standing up here some day, and I just had no idea it was gonna happen this fast for me. … I’ll close with this just saying I feel a little bit guilty taking home such a wonderful present on my daughter’s birthday. Happy birthday, Gracie, if you’re watching!”
Bill Anderson, Song of the Year, (2005)
“I have probably been writing songs in Nashville longer than just about anybody” he said as he accepted the honor for co-writing “Whiskey Lullaby” with Jon Randall. “My first co-writer was Andrew Jackson, but to still be part of this wonderful industry and to share moments with people like Jon Randall, who is so talented, and Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss who made such a wonderful record on this song … wow. Thank you so very, very much, and thanks for just letting me continue to be part of this country music business still after all this time.”
Carrie Underwood, Female Vocalist (2006)
“Two years ago, I was sitting at home watching these very awards, watching all these other people win and have the best night of their lives and this is the best night of my life. I’ve had so many good times and so many wonderful things happen to me this past year.”
Brad Paisley, Album of the Year (2006)
“First and foremost to the country music fans, I love you, too,” he said in accepting the trophy for Time Well Wasted. “I never dreamed when we made this album that we would sell 25 million copies of it. I mean, we haven’t yet, but we’re very excited about the possibilities now that we’ve won this.”
George Strait, Album of the Year (2008)
“Everybody says they’ve got the greatest fans, but I really have the greatest fans,” he said after winning the award for Troubadour.
Miranda Lambert, Female Vocalist (2012)
“Holy crap! I don’t necessarily deserve this, but I’ll sure take it.”