From new acts such as Kacey Musgraves to the iconic Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, country music was well represented during the 56th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night (Jan. 26) as the Recording Academy honored some of the genre's finest.
Winning big this year in surprising fashion was Musgraves, the newcomer who took home the trophies for best country album (Same Trailer Different Park) and best country song ("Merry Go 'Round"). Her win for song was also celebrated by her co-writers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne.
"Oh, my goodness! I can't believe it," said Musgraves from the podium after Martina McBride and Zac Brown handed her the country album award. "I got to make a record that I poured myself into, and I'm so proud of. And I couldn't ask for two better co-producers, Luke Laird and Shane McAnally. [Thank you to] all the wonderful musicians that played on this record and brought these songs to life ... [and] the Nashville songwriting community that truly inspired me and literally made me who I am."
The night's early winners were revealed during a pre-show ceremony and included Darius Rucker (best country solo performance for "Wagon Wheel"), The Civil Wars (best country duo/group performance for "From This Valley"), Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell (best Americana album for Old Yellow Moon), the Del McCoury Band (best bluegrass album for The Streets of Baltimore), Guy Clark (best folk album for My Favorite Picture of You) and Steve Martin and Edie Brickell (best American roots song for "Love Has Come for You").
Truly a night with music at its center, the Grammys also featured a wealth of country music performances.
Hunter Hayes debuted his new single "Invisible," Musgraves preached tolerance with "Follow Your Arrow" and Taylor Swift delivered a stirring piano rendition of "All Too Well."
Special collaborations were highlighted, as well, as Keith Urban teamed up with blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. on Urban's new single "Cop Car," and later Miranda Lambert and Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong duetted on The Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved" to honor the late Phil Everly.
Last but certainly not least, Nelson, Kristofferson, Haggard and Blake Shelton took the stage to revisit the Highwaymen supergroup that consisted of Kristofferson, Nelson and the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. The modern group sang pieces of "The Highwayman," "Okie From Muskogee" and "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys."
For more on the 56th annual Grammy Awards, visit the CMT.com microsite and tune into CMT Hot 20 Countdown Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 1 -2) at 11 a.m. ET/PT.