CMA Awards 2013

George Strait CB Cover Nov. 15 2013.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

The new face of country music has an obsession with beer, trucks and party ‘til you drop themes, and make sure you do it on a country back road, with pickup trucks, copious amounts of beer , girls in their “Daisy Dukes”  and live for the moment. WOO HOO!!  Fans of traditional country music, story songs of love and songs from the heart have, for the last little while, bemoaned the loss of their genre and fear their music would become a distant memory. Just when they thought maybe country music was in a death spiral a bright light of hope comes shining through. George Strait, the cowboy’s cowboy, the embodiment of pure country music wins the 2013 Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year honours!!  It is one of the most coveted honours in the genre.

George Strait won his third Entertainer of the Year Award and his first since 1990 against country music's current hit makers, and no one seemed disappointed. Blake Shelton — one of five performers with a leading two victories — was excited to lose to the 61-year-old whose popularity defies his age.

Blake Shelton and Miranda LambertBlake Shelton and Miranda Lambert“That's how it needs to be because he’s not just entertainer of the year, he's entertainer of the last three decades, I guess, or four decades," Shelton said. "I don't know who's keeping score. I mean, it's George Strait. He's King George. I couldn't be happier with how this turned out." Shelton was one of five top winners with two trophies apiece, along with Florida Georgia Line and the trio of Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, who won music video and music event of the year for their ”Highway Don't Care” collaboration.

Taylor Swift also was bidding for her third Entertainer of the Year win, which would have been a CMA record for a female artist. Like Shelton, she didn’t seem to be upset by losing, instead embracing Faith Hill. Both have opened for King George in their careers and Strait and his wife Norma once dropped in  to a Taylor Swift  concert when she was a teenager just to wish her luck. Strait got  a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage, and the crowd  stayed on their feet throughout his speech. It was a special moment in the festivities.

Strait’s retirement from the road has gained lots of attention, but he isn't a legacy act. He recently earned his record 60th # 1 record and signed a five-album deal with Universal Music Nashville. He shared his feelings with reporters backstage on his touring the country on his The Cowboy Rides Away tour, slated to be  his last. "When I first started out this year, the first few shows, I about lost it every night, you know, leaving the stage ... thinking, `This might be the last time I ever play on this stage again,"' Strait said. Strait's victory was a part of a show that was simultaneously focused on the past, present and future.

Blake Shelton, his wife Miranda Lambert and Swift all continued their winning ways. Shelton took home album of the year for his latest “Based on a True Story” and won, for the fourth time, male vocalist of the year.  Lambert was voted female vocalist of the year, also for the fourth time, tying her with Reba McEntire.

It was the third straight year in which Lambert or Shelton were among the top winners, and capped a year in which they were dogged by tabloid stories about their relationship. Lambert said she wasn't sure why the CMA's 6,000 voters love the couple so much.

" We were talking and saying, 'Well, our year was last year,'" Lambert said. "It was great, a great run while we had it. We'll drink tonight and celebrate all of our friends winning, because literally all of my friends won awards tonight."

Swift, who performed an acoustic version of her hit “Red” with Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Sam Bush, won her eighth and ninth CMA trophies before being honoured with the association's Pinnacle Award, given to an artist who has taken country to a worldwide audience.

Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley scored single and vocal duo of the year. Their quick wins early in the show was more proof the so-called bro country movement is the sound of the moment in mainstream country. Florida Georgia Line kicked off the show performing a fist-pumping medley with Luke Bryan, and quickly returned to the stage to take the trophy for single of the year for their “Cruise” remix featuring Nelly. They also played the new song “Round Here,”

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift"It's been a constant thing all year — we've been trying to wrap our minds around what's going on," Hubbard said backstage of the band's platinum success. "It's been a dream come true for us and a huge blessing for us and something we could have never imagined."

Kacey Musgraves won the new artist trophy, topping a list that included Florida Georgia Line."It's amazing what 52 weeks can do to a person," Musgraves said backstage. "... Last year I had really crappy seats. You know, I was just sitting back with my roommate just as a fan. And here I am holding this thing."

Lee Brice's “I Drive Your Truck”, about a fallen soldier whose father still drives his truck, won song of the year, and Little Big Town took its second straight vocal group of the year. Collaboration was the theme of the night as Strait and Alan Jackson joined together to salute the late George Jones with a rendition of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Hunter Hayes and Jason Mraz took a tour of the Bridgestone Arena while performing “Everybody's Got Somebody But Me.” And in one of the night's most anticipated moments, Kenny Rogers received the CMA's Willie Nelson lifetime achievement award.

So another year is the books for the Country Music Association Awards and another year of the cohabitation of the new and the old. Long live country music and thank you George Strait for keeping it real!