Garth Brooks Named Entertainer of the Year
Chris Stapleton and Dann Huff are the Night’s Top Winners with
Two Trophies Each

NASHVILLE – It was a celebration five decades in the making
when winners were announced tonight during “The 50th Annual CMA Awards” live from Nashville.

The night’s big winner
was Garth Brooks who now holds the record as having the most
wins for Entertainer of the Year in CMA Awards history with five. Two individuals
won multiple Awards including Chris Stapleton who collected trophies
for Music Video and Male Vocalist of the Year, and Dann Huff
who won Musician and Single of the Year for producing Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man.”  

I never thought
I’d be able to come back. And when you come back you never think you’re going
to get to hold one of these [CMA trophies] again,” Brooks told reporters backstage.
He continued,
Awards are for younger artists so
the older you get the more precious [they are].”

The winners were a diverse group with first-time winners
including Brothers Osborne, Elle King, Maren
, and Thomas Rhett; plus podium regulars and returning
winners Dierks Bentley, Brooks, Eric Church,
Huff, Little Big Town, Lori McKenna, Stapleton,
and Carrie Underwood

Thomas Rhett won the first trophy of the night for
Single of the Year for “Die a Happy Man,” which was produced by Huff and Jesse
and mix engineered by Justin Niebank. The second
single from his album Tangled Up, the song spent 17 weeks at No. 1 on
Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

CMA Song of the Year was awarded to Lori McKenna for
her solo composition “Humble and Kind.” McKenna won the same category in 2015
for “Girl Crush.” The song was essentially a primer for McKenna’s five children
– a list of life lessons. McGraw performed the song with emotional intensity during the broadcast.

Morris was named CMA New
Artist of the Year – her first Award. The “My Church” firebrand was emotional
as she thanked the audience and recounted how just one year ago, she watched the
broadcast from a bar down the street. Morris moved to Nashville at 20 with a goal
of becoming a working songwriter. She eventually changed her mind and spent 2016 touring with Keith Urban.

Church won his second CMA
Album of the Year trophy for Mr. Misunderstood, which was produced by
Jay Joyce and Arturo Buenahora, Jr. A surprise
album that was announced and released during “The 49th Annual CMA
Awards,” Mr. Misunderstood debuted at No. 3 and peaked at No. 2 on
Billboard’s Top Country Album chart in November 2015.

Brothers Osborne were also first
time winners, taking home the CMA Award for Vocal Duo of the Year. Real-life brothers
John and TJ Osborne first honed their sound melding Country, blues, and Southern
rock during all-night jam sessions while growing up in the small fishing town of Deale, Md.

Taking home their fifth
consecutive Vocal Group of the Year title was Little Big Town. The quartet performed
their latest single, “Better Man,” during the broadcast and recently revealed
the song was penned by former CMA Female Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year Taylor Swift.

Underwood won her fourth
CMA Female Vocalist of the Year trophy. She won the Female Vocalist category in
2006-2008. After thrilling fans across the U.S. with her “The Storyteller Tour”
this year, Underwood will do the same for fans in Australia and New Zealand when
she joins Keith Urban’s world tour in December.

Stapleton won CMA Male Vocalist of the Year for the
second year in a row. Earlier in the day, he won CMA Music Video of the Year with
director Tim Mattia for “Fire Away.” Stapleton plays a supporting
role as a bartender in the harrowing video, which follows a young couple from
happy times through anguish as the woman makes two suicide attempts. This is Stapleton’s
first win in the Music Video category.

“Everything happened very organically with that video,”
Stapleton said to press backstage. “It’s something that hopefully has value beyond
me and the video. That’s why I like it.”

Swift was on hand to present the top trophy this year
to Brooks, who is now the winningiest Entertainer of the Year in CMA Awards history
with five wins (1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2016).   

During the broadcast Dolly
was presented the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in
a moving tribute introduced by “9 to 5” co-star Lily Tomlin,
with Martina McBride, Kacey Musgraves, Jennifer
, Pentatonix, Reba, and Underwood.

“Wow, what a tribute,”
Parton said. “That was so touching. I would have cried but I didn’t want to mess up my eyelashes.”

Kenny Chesney
received the CMA Pinnacle Award in a presentation hosted by retired NFL favorite
Peyton Manning. The Pinnacle Award has only been presented three
times in CMA history. Previous recipients include Brooks and Swift.

Bentley won Musical Event
of the Year with King for “Different for Girls,” which was announced on ABC’s
“Good Morning America” by anchor Lara Spencer. Written as
a testament to women’s emotional strength, the song became what Bentley called
a “centerpiece” of his recent album Black. The song peaked at No.
1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in September. This marks Bentley’s
third CMA Award and King’s first.             

In pre-televised Awards hosted by duo Dan +
, Dann Huff was named CMA Musician of the Year. Huff has been nominated
17 times in the category and this is his third win including 2001 and 2004.

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