Stellar fashion, beautiful couples, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s opening monologue–there are too many memorable moments we are preparing ourselves for as we count down the hours until the 52nd Annual CMA Awards kick off tonight.
Let’s also not forget the performances and special collaborations that are always out-of-this-world amazing on a night like this. The stars hold nothing back and sparkle even brighter, and we at CMT.com have picked five, in no particular order, that we can’t wait to see:
Chris + Maren + Mavis = Church
Now you knew after 2015’s CMA Awards, where Stapleton brought his good buddy Justin Timberlake out on stage, that the bar had been set for superstar collaborations. And just when you think he couldn’t top that, we get word that Stapleton, the night’s leading nominee, will perform with Female Vocalist and Musical Event of the Year nominee Maren Morris and…icon Mavis Staples. Can Bridgestone Arena hold that much power, soul, and heart? We’ll find out shortly. We might be openly weeping right alongside Morgane Stapleton because one thing is certain: it will be a musical sermon we all desperately need to hear. (SS)
The Omnipresent Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha
Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha’s multi-platinum “Meant to Be” was inescapable this year. The crossover smash was everywhere as it topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for almost a year, and we can’t wait to see them perform together in Rexha’s CMA awards debut. She is a first-time nominee, receiving two nods this year in the musical event and single of the year categories. Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are six-time vocal duo of the year nominees, and three-time winners in the category. (LT)
Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne: the bromance that won’t quit. And honestly, we don’t want it to. Vocal Duo of the Year nominees John and TJ Osborne joined Male Vocalist nominee Bentley’s Mountain High Tour this past year, where an already great friendship became even stronger. So will they perform their nominated collaboration “Burning Man?” It’s likely, but then again unpredictability is their strong suit and spontaneity is where the magic lies. Regardless of what they perform, it’s sure to be full of just that… magic. And hopefully at least one long, crunchy, badass guitar solo (we’re looking at you, John.) (SS)
Fierce Female Performers and Presenters
All the women onstage at tonight’s CMA awards started out growing up watching the show while singing in a hairbrush microphone pretending to be the night’s big winners. Tonight, they get to be the aspiration for all young women watching who want to walk the red carpet in their shoes one day. Among the performers and presenters scheduled to be onstage are Rexha, Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, Kacey Musgraves, Pistol Annies, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Mavis Staples, Lindsay Ell, Sierra Hull, Ashley McBryde, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild. (LT)
Last month, I came thisclose to frostbitten fingers and toes waiting for Garth Brooks to take the chilly stage at his Notre Dame concert. (Did I mention it was literally freezing that night?) So to say I’m looking forward to watching him perform during tonight’s CMA Awards is an immense understatement. I will be indoors, he will be indoors, and everything will be right with the world. And there’s no predicting what song he’ll sing — I’m always ready for Brooks to reach way back in his discography and pull out a deep cut he hasn’t played in years — but tonight he’s chosen a new song. Earlier in the week, Brooks shared that he’d be doing one for his wife, Trisha Yearwood. “In a moment in the show, it’s going to come down to just a guy and his guitar,” he said. And how new is this new song? Even Yearwood hasn’t heard it yet. “There’ll be a camera on her, there’ll be a camera on me, and there are bets out on the farm to see which one of us is going to start crying first. It’s the CMAs, so you’re always kind of scared, but it’s a good kind of scared. At the same time, you hope the love of your life hears a song the way you heard it the first time. And if I do my job, then hopefully that will happen.” Brooks’ performance will be one of the most stripped-down of the night, and to me, those are always the ones that stand out because of their quiet simplicity. And to be honest, I just always fall in love with love songs. (AB)
Hear what a few of the night’s nominees told CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown heading into the big show tonight.
Tune in to see all of the magical moments when the 52nd Annual CMA Awards air LIVE at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT on ABC.