Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth was named best country album, and Morris’ debut single, “My Church,” won for best country solo performance. McKenna received country song of the year honors for writing Tim McGraw‘s “Humble and Kind.”
When Simpson made it to the stage to pick up his country album trophy during the pre-telecast ceremony, he talked about the road that got him there.
“Six years ago, I was in Utah working on a railroad, writing songs at night. My wife made me quit that job and move to Nashville. Thank you, babe,” he said.
“About two and a half years ago, our first son was born right around the time my last record came out. So I spent the first year of his life on the road, missing him and her. And if it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have written this record. So I have to dedicate this to my family.”
Best country solo performance was the only category revealed during the CBS telecast.
“Oh, my goodness.,” Morris said in accepting the trophy. “This is so crazy. Thank you to the Recording Academy. Eleven years ago, I went to the first-ever Grammy Camp. It was the first time I ever flew on a plane by myself to L.A., and it’s crazy to be here a decade later.”
She also acknowledged her fans, telling them, “Thank you for giving me the most incredible year of my life.”
McKenna won best country song honors last year for co-writing Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.”
“This is such an honor,” McKenna said through her tears Sunday after winning for “Humble and Kind.”
“I just sat at my dining room table and wrote a song for my kids one day, and Tim McGraw made a moment out of this little, tiny, simple prayer that I wrote for five kids,” she added.
Hillary Scott, best known as a member of Lady Antebellum, won two Grammys for the music she made with her family in 2016. Scott and the Scott Family won trophies for contemporary Christian music performance/song for their song, “Thy Will,” and contemporary Christian music album for Love Remains.
Scott first thanked her long list of supporters, then promised she’d hug everyone and send thank-you notes. Then after picking up the second Grammy, she started to cry and handed over the acceptance duties to her father Lang Scott.
Hillary joined her dad again at the podium to thank her Lady Antebellum bandmates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood for giving her their blessing to make a contemporary Christian album.
Vince Gill accepted the Grammy for American roots music song for writing the title track of Kid Sister, an album he recorded with his Western swing band, the Time Jumpers.
“If you have the chance once in your life to hear the voice of the woman I wrote this song about, her name was Dawn Sears,” Gill said.
Sears, a member of the Time Jumpers and a longtime member of Gill’s touring band, died of cancer in 2014 at age 53.
When Joey + Rory‘s Rory Feek accepted the roots gospel album award for Hymns, which he recorded with his late wife Joey, he said he’d promised her before she died that if the music was nominated, he’d go.
“She said, ‘Remember, if we win, I’ll know before you will,'” Feek said.
Country Music Hall of Fame members Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson were also among the country winners. Parton was featured on the Pentatonix remake of her “Jolene,” which was named best country duo/group performance. Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin won as best traditional pop vocal album.
Sarah Jarosz won two awards — best folk album for Undercurrent and best American roots album for “House of Mercy.”
Best bluegrass album honors went to Coming Home by the O’Connor Band With Mark O’Connor, and Stax Records legend William Bell’s This Is Where I Live was named best Americana album.
There was even a country connection in the Grammy’s jazz category.
Guitarist John Scofield’s Nashville-inspired Country for Old Men was named best jazz instrumental album. Scofield also won a trophy for best improvised jazz solo for one of the album’s tracks — Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”