The second installment of my favorite CMA Moments includes moments from legends, country newcomers, and a few surprise winners that have all left a lasting memory in my mind. Here is the second set of ten moments from CMA awards history.
20. Kellie Pickler Breaks Down during “I Wonder” Performance
As one of the nominees for the Horizon Award, American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler was awarded with a coveted performance slot. Rather than performing her signature hit, “Red High Heels,” the singer performed her deeply personal song “I Wonder.” The song is based on the nonexistent relationship the singer has with her mother. At the end of the performance, the singer becomes overcome with emotion and almost can’t finish the song. With the help of a rousing applause from the audience, Pickler finishes like a pro and receives a much deserved standing ovation.
19. Kacey Musgraves Brings Back Traditional Country
The 2014 CMA Awards was a breakthrough for Kacey Musgraves as she walked away with the Song of the Year trophy for her controversial single, “Follow Your Arrow.” In addition to winning her second CMA award, she took the opportunity to honor the Queen of Country Music, Loretta Lynn by performing the pioneer’s hit, “You’re Looking at Country.” Musgraves surprised the crowd by bringing out the icon to help her perform the hit. As it should, the performance garnered a huge standing ovation.
18. An Idol Performs with an Icon
One of the biggest surprises to come out of the 2012 awards show was the inclusion of Kelly Clarkson in the Female Vocalist of the Year category. As is customary, the nominee was given a performance slot during the telecast. She chose to debut a new country song featuring Vince Gill titled “Don’t Rush.” The starlet proved she belonged in the list of women as she nailed the more traditional sounding song that would eventually be nominated for Vocal Event of the Year. I still say Kelly needs to record an all-country album…c’mon Kelly…we’d love to have you!
17. Taylor Swift Recruits Vince Gill & Alison Krauss to perform “Red”
Taylor Swift had become a global superstar by the time the 2012 CMA awards rolled around and the organization recognized that fact. That year, they awarded the singer with the Pinnacle Award celebrating her success as one of the biggest superstars in the history of country music. That night, Taylor silenced those that have said she wasn’t country (me included) by performing a stripped down version of her hit “Red.” What made the performance even more special was the inclusion of two of country’s best vocalists, Alison Krauss and Vince Gill. The threesome delivered a magical performance that will go down as one of the best in the awards’ history.
16. 2000: The Year Chicks Ruled
The Dixie Chicks could not have asked for a better CMA awards night at the 2000 ceremony. Not only did they deliver a sassy rendition of their killer hit, “Sin Wagon,” but the group walked away with four trophies that night including Entertainer of the Year. In a span of just 3 years, the group would win eight CMA Awards and become the biggest selling all female group in history.
15. Traditional Country becomes the LAW in 2005
Though the CMA awards moved in 2005 to New York City’s Madison Square Garden, it was a pinnacle year for traditional country’s return to the CMA winner’s circle. Heading into the night, Lee Ann Womack was tied with the most nominations and would walk away with three wins. Those wins included Single of the Year (“I May Hate Myself in the Morning”) and Vocal Event of the Year for her duet with George Strait, “Good News, Bad News.” After being announced as the winner for Album of the Year for her stellar There’s More Where that Came From, the singer began her speech with an enthusiastic phrase: “I love country music.” It’s a shame the singer hasn’t received the same type of love from the CMAs since then.
14. “And Jesus…and Jesus…and Jesus”
After years of leaving the CMA awards empty handed, the 2012 ceremony proved to be a breakthrough for Little Big Town. Not only did they win their first CMA for Single of the Year for their smash hit, “Pontoon,” but they claimed their first Vocal Group of the Year trophy. Stunned and shocked, the quartet didn’t quite know who to thank but made sure they thanked Jesus…several times! It proved to be one of the night’s funniest and emotional moments of the night! Thank you Jesus for LBT!
13. Barefoot Deana
For some reason this moment has always stayed in my brain. During the 1997 CMA Awards, Deana Carter performed a rousing rendition of her song, “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” and was immediately whisked away backstage to wait while the award for Single of the Year was announced. Carter was a nominee for her hit “Strawberry Wine” and waited backstage. Once her name was called, she ran out from backstage jumping and hollering with no shoes on and leaped right into the arms of presenter Ricky Skaggs. Nearly 20 years later and this is still one of my favorite winner’s reactions! You can see a small glimpse of the moment at the very beginning of the video.
12. Elvira Goes Acapella
During the 2015 awards, acapella superstars Pentatonix presented the Vocal Group of the Year award. However, before they announced the winner, they took some time to honor Country Music Hall of Fame inductees, the Oak Ridge Boys, by delivering a stellar performance of the group’s smash hit, “Elvira.” The group easily delivered one of the best performances of the night and received a standing ovation.
11. Reba, Linda, and the Infamous Dress
In an interview with Ralph Emery, Reba McEntire said that she got more press off the infamous red dress than if she had won Entertainer of the Year…boy, was that an understatement! Story goes that Reba had no idea what the dress was going to look like until minutes before the show. Though it looked like it covered everything in the lighting backstage, once she hit the stage you could tell that it barely covered everything. She was met onstage with an audible gasp from the audience, but like the true pro she is, she delivered an outstanding performance of her iconic duet with Linda Davis, “Does He Love You?” The duo would go on to win Vocal Event of the Year at the 1994 CMA awards.
Don’t forget to tune into the 50th Annual CMA Awards ceremony (hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood) on November 2nd on ABC! Also, if you missed the first installment of the countdown you can read Part 1 here!