The 2015 CMT Music Awards turned into Carrie Underwood’s Comeback Special Wednesday night (June 10) at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, where she arrived in a glistening white dress and left toting three awards.
All in all, it was an Underwood show, as she began the awards presentations by picking up the collaborative video of the year buckle for “Somethin’ Bad,” her hit with friend Miranda Lambert.
While Lambert wasn’t in attendance, she was in Underwood’s thoughts as she mentioned her friend in the acceptance speech for “Somethin’ Bad,” adding that making that video was a career highlight.
“We had so much fun working on this video, it felt like we were just playing,” she said after the cheers of the fans died down.
The fan favorite’s joy continued when she got the female video of the year trophy for her powerful “Something in the Water.”
“This video is very, very special to me. I love the song,” she said after the buckle was presented to her by Little Big Town.
That’s when the new mother in her came out, as she smiled and said, “This was my first awards show since little Isaiah has been in the world.”
She also thanked her husband, Mike Fisher, the hockey player who as a Nashville Predator has made this same arena home, who was sitting happily enjoying his wife’s honor.
Underwood said that the baby “is napping in the bus” parked by the arena, but he is already helping his mom.
“He already has inspired me,” she said.
Underwood showed that new motherhood has not robbed her of her vocal power as she sang her current hit, “Little Toy Guns,” as the night’s final performance.
It was just minutes later that she was called back to center stage at the arena when a cowboy-hat-wearing Arnold Schwarzenegger and comic actor Tom Arnold presented her with the video of the year trophy.
First saying, “I don’t know what to say,” Underwood went on to collect herself, thinking about the fans’ votes that made this the frosting on her big comeback cake of an evening.
“This is such an amazing blessing,” she said. “I have the best fans in the world. Country music has the best fans in the world, but I have the best of the best.
“God bless you guys,” she said to the fans in the house and those who were watching on television. “Thank you so much.”
Then she added “thank you, baby,” as the camera played on a glowing Fisher while the other baby in her life no doubt continued to snooze on the bus.
Of course, Underwood wasn’t the only one doing the celebrating Wednesday night, as the awards show is the “unofficial” beginning of the CMA Music Fest, which begins Thursday in the arena, out on Lower Broadway, at the Titans’ home turf, LP Field and at other stages planted around the city’s honky-tonk district.
After the first of Underwood’s awards, the next honor was for breakthrough video of the year, which Sam Hunt won for “Leave the Night On,” and that, too, seemed to please the fans crowding the arena.
“Thank y’all,” he said. “Thank you to all my buddies who came out and helped me make this video.”
Then he pointed into the on-their-feet audience near the stage.
“A couple of years ago, I was standing right down here for this awards show,” he said, motioning to the fans. “It’s good to be up on the stage this year.”
That award was followed up by one for Florida Georgia Line, who were nominated twice in the duo video of the year category.
Nominated for both “Sun Daze” and “Dirt,” they won the buckle for the latter.
“First of all, we got to thank God,” said Brian Kelley.
Tyler Hubbard, his partner in the duo that draws heavily on classic Southern rock in its songs, thanked everyone for “making our dreams come true.”
After Underwood scored for “Something in the Water,” the stage was turned over to classic rock, as Bob Seger and Jason Aldean took the honor for CMT Performance of the Year. Seger, a classic rock warrior for well over four decades, wasn’t in attendance to see the buckle being presented for his introspective and lonesome ballad about a rocker’s life on the road, “Turn the Page.”
“Thanks to Bob Seger for being a bad-ass,” said Aldean, as he accepted the buckle. He and Seger performed the song on an episode of CMT Crossroads, but Aldean said he was no stranger to “Turn the Page.”
“This was a song I performed in the clubs for years,” Aldean said. “For me to play it with him on the stage was a dream come true.”
It was a busy — and victorious — evening for Lady Antebellum. The trio opened the festivities with intertwined performances of “Long Stretch of Love” and “Beautiful Now” (performed with Zedd).
And then came their honor, a bit later in the evening, when they took group video of the year honors for “Bartender.”
After being presented with the buckle by Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus, the trio joked about how much fun it was to make the video. Especially since supermodel Kate Upton is featured in it.
“Let this be a lesson: You have to put Kate Upton in a video if you want to win,” said Charles Kelley, as the audience laughed. Hillary Scott joked that thanks to Upton’s presence, both Kelley and Dave Haywood made it to rehearsals early for once.
Luke Bryan celebrated in, well, Luke Bryan style when presented the male video of the year award for “Play It Again.”
“Thank you so much, fans and CMT. … ‘Play It Again’ was an unbelievable song for us,” he said.
Then addressing the fans who have turned him into a stadium headliner, he said “You guys have fun. This is a good week.
“Wooo-woooo,” he howled.
Hope he didn’t awaken Underwood’s baby out there in the bus.