Garth Brooks defied our racetrack odds by winning Entertainer of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards on his only nomination. In hindsight it seems appropriate that the Country Music Association would honor a veteran like Brooks on the night they celebrated their 50th anniversary and paid tribute to the legends of the industry.
That was the only award for Brooks, and the CMAs spread the wealth everywhere else too. In fact, only one artist claimed multiple awards, and that was Chris Stapleton, who won two to add to the three he won last year. He took home Male Vocalist of the Year for the second year in a row, and also earned Music Video of the Year for “Fire Away.”
CMA co-host Carrie Underwood won Female Vocalist of the Year for the first time in eight years. She previously won three in a row from 2006 to 2008 and has now won that award four times total. This ends the winning streak of Miranda Lambert, who received the prize for the last six years in a row.
Newcomer Maren Morris broke through at the CMAs in a big way this year with a leading five nominations — tied with Stapleton and Eric Church — so it was no surprise that she went home with New Artist of the Year.
Church didn’t leave empty-handed either. He won Album of the Year for the second time for “Mr. Misunderstood.” He previously won that award in 2012 for “Chief.”
Vocal Group of the Year went to Little Big Town for the fifth year in a row, as expected. We were also right in betting that Thomas Rhett would win Single of the Year for his number-one hit “Die a Happy Man”; it was the first CMA Award of his career. We thought Rhett would also win Song of the Year, but that prize went instead to Lori McKenna for her song “Humble and Kind” performed by Tim McGraw.
We are also surprised by Musical Event of the Year winner “Different for Girls” by Dierks Bentley and Elle King. But no one was more surprised than Brothers Osborne themselves when they claimed Vocal Duo of the Year, upsetting frontrunners and three-time defending champs Florida Georgia Line.