Blake Shelton Earns Fifth CMA Male Vocalist Award

Dedicates His Win to '80s Hitmaker Earl Thomas Conley

Blake Shelton was convinced his friend was going to win the male vocalist trophy at Wednesday night’s (Nov. 5) CMA Awards in Nashville. But in accepting the honor, Shelton dedicated it to one of country music’s biggest hitmakers of the ’80s.

“I really thought Luke (Bryan) was going to win this thing this year,” he told the crowd. “I could not be more proud to win this award tonight. This means so much to me. You guys don’t even know. This is a big night for my family, so this is amazing to be a part of this.”

Shelton’s wife Miranda Lambert was a four-time winner at the 48th annual CMA Awards, including female vocalist, single of the year (“Automatic” ) and album of the year (Platinum). She and Keith Urban also shared the musical event of the year award for their collaboration on “We Were Us.”

In accepting his fifth consecutive male vocalist award, Shelton thanked the usual people, including his record label, manager and booking agent. However, nobody could have anticipated what he said next.

“They put a book under our seats before this show, and it tells who all the past winners of CMAs are,” Shelton said. “And I saw tonight that my all-time hero has never won one of these, so I want to dedicate this award tonight to my hero, Earl Thomas Conley. This one’s for you, bud.”

Beginning with his first No. 1 single, 1981’s “Fire & Smoke,” Conley topped the country chart a total of 18 times through the end of the decade with hits such as “Holding Her and Loving You,” “Nobody Falls Like a Fool” and “Somewhere Between Right and Wrong.”

Check out more coverage from the 48th 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.