George Strait Wins Top Prize At 2013 CMA Awards
George Strait Wins Top Prize At 2013 CMA Awards
Posted by Kristina Burton on 11/07/2013
Your new CMA entertainer of the year, at age 61, is George Strait.
Strait had not won a top entertainer award in 23 years, but he walked away from the 47th CMA Awards holding the night’s biggest prize.
“I’m just blown away,” said Strait, a beloved figure in the industry and the first Country Music Hall of Famer to win the award since Eddy Arnold did so at the very first CMA Awards. Strait, whose farewell tour ends in 2014, is the oldest person ever to win the award, by more than a decade. This year, he notched his record 60th chart-topping hit.
The unprecedented nature of Strait’s win was a surprising and, to many, thrilling conclusion to the night that also featured some not-so-surprises.
For the fourth consecutive year, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are the CMA’s top male and female vocalists. Shelton is the first male to win four straight since Vince Gill in 1994, and Lambert is the first to win her category four times in a row since Reba McEntire in 1987, when Lambert was 3 years old.
“I really didn’t think this was going to happen this year,” said Lambert, prior to praising each of the other nominees. Her husband Shelton repeated that sentiment, and then recalled his rise from the country industry’s ashes.
“We have been at the bottom before, and somehow dug our way out,” he said.
The show’s musical opener was a showcase for the kind of ubiquitous “bro-country” that has come under fire from contemporary country stars like Zac Brown, Jake Owen, Gary Allen and Toby Keith.
Luke Bryan wore a backwards baseball cap, danced and sang “That’s My Kind Of Night,” followed by a bit of Florida Georgia Line doing “Cruise” while Bryan shouted “C’mon! C’mon!” like a hip-hop hype man. They then all shifted back to “That’s My Kind Of Night” to conclude a performance that served as a state of the country radio union address.
Then hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood humorously addressed the industry in-fighting over songs about partying in, on and around pickup trucks.
“Why can’t we be friends,” they sang. “Luke Bryan and Zac Brown, nobody cares/ You both make great records and you’re both millionaires.” Cameras cut to Bryan and Brown, smiling and embracing in the audience. Country feuds die easy.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley’s duo, Florida Georgia Line, rode a record-setting year to top single (for “Cruise”) and top vocal duo awards.
Released in August 2012 and written by Kelley and Hubbard with Joey Moi, Chase Rice and Jessie Rice, “Cruise” is now the best-selling digital song ever from a country duo.
“Cruise” set a 69-year record for most weeks — 23 atop “Billboard” magazine’s Hot Country Songs chart, besting Eddy Arnold, Webb Pierce and Hank Snow’s old mark of 21 straight weeks at No. 1. It sold more than 5 million downloads, and defined contemporary country music’s past year.
“It’s been a constant thing all year,” Hubbard said, backstage. “We’ve been trying to wrap our mind around what’s going on. It’s been a dream come true and a huge blessing to us..... Hopefully, fingers crossed, we can do this for a long time.”
Musically, the CMA Awards often broke the bro-country mold.
There were dirt-road party anthem guys strutting around, but there was also an acoustic performance from Taylor Swift with Vince Gill, mandolin wizard Sam Bush and bluegrass thrush Alison Krauss. Bryan even sang — quite well — an understated ballad of loss and regret, perhaps misleadingly called “Drink A Beer.”
There was also a Kacey Musgraves song called “Follow Your Arrow” that leaned to the folkabilly of late 1980s’ Nanci Griffith, a pyro-happy rock anthem from Eric Church, plenty of country-pop, a propulsive stage turn from Zac Brown Band and drummer Dave Grohl, and tributes to Country Music Hall of Famers George Jones and Kenny Rogers.
Voters ratified Musgraves as the genre’s top new artist, on the strength of her Same Trailer Different Park album, which has received universal critical acclaim without yet receiving a positive consensus from radio programmers. Jody Rosen of “Rolling Stone” wrote, with sharp words and typical sentiment, that her album “showcases a songwriting voice you won’t hear anywhere else in pop: young, female, downwardly mobile, fiercely witty.”
“I Drive Your Truck,” a song that bridged the sometimes gaping hole between truck talk and genuine emotion, won the song of the year trophy, a coveted prize that is often presented for artistic achievement rather than for commercial triumph.
Penned by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary, “I Drive Your Truck” is a radio chart-topper inspired by fallen soldier Jared Monti, a Medal of Honor winner who died in combat in Afghanistan. Harrington heard the story of Monti’s father, who was asked how he remembered his son and replied, “I drive his truck.”
It is the first song of the year award for each of the three writers.
“A lot of songs, as writers you have to craft them,” Alexander said. “But this one had all the elements there. It kind of wrote itself, though there were a lot of tears.”
Tim McGraw, George Strait, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban presented 23-year-old, six-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift the CMA’s Pinnacle Award, given for having achieved “worldwide success and recognition unique to country music.”
The Swift segment included video tributes from Mick Jagger, Ethel Kennedy, Justin Timberlake and others. Country’s all-time top-selling artist, Garth Brooks, is the only other Pinnacle Award recipient.
Little Big Town, the quartet of Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet, won a second consecutive top vocal group award.
Prior to the broadcast, “Highway Don’t Care,” by Tim McGraw and featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, won trophies for top musical event and for best video (a prize that also went to director Shane Drake).
And Mac McAnally, whose rhythm guitar work is regularly heard on recordings by Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett, won his sixth straight musician of the year award.
2013 CMA AWARD WINNERS
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
“Based on a True Story”: Blake Shelton; Produced by Scott Hendricks; Warner Bros. Records
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
“Cruise”; Florida Georgia Line; Produced by Joey Moi; Republic Nashville
SONG OF THE YEAR
“I Drive Your Truck,” Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Little Big Town
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Florida Georgia Line
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
“Highway Don’t Care”; Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban; Big Machine Records
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
“Highway Don’t Care,” Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban; Directed by Shane Drake
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Mac McAnally (Guitar)
Source: The Tennessean