Amidst the tears, gowns and cowboy hats, musical artists and fans gathered around to celebrate the 50th year of the Country Music Awards.
Starting off the night with samples of classic country music, various artists celebrated the 50-year milestone in previous hall-of-fame winners. The opening performers included Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels, Reba McEntire, Dwight Yoakam, Alan Jackson and more. The compilation ended with Randy Travis, the newest entry into the hall of fame.
Like previous years, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley hosted the night. But this year, they opened with political jabs and joked about the suffocating political coverage, causing them not to care who wins. They continued with their comical jabber throughout most of the night, which has become their signature and the reason they are called to host each year.
During a joke, Peyton Manning and Kenney Chesney were thrown in the spotlight. Later, Manning presented Chesney with the Spotlight Award for two decades of success and 156 sold-out stadium shows.
“This honor has been presented only twice in CMA history. First to Garth Brooks in 2005 and to Taylor Swift in 2013. Tonight, it rightly goes to a performer who by any standard has taken country music to the pinnacle,” Manning said during his announcement.
The 2016 Olympics women’s gymnastics team announced the first winner of the night, Thomas Rhett. He won single of the year for his song “Die a Happy Man,” which he later performed.
Song of the Year was awarded to Lori McKenna for “Humble and Kind,” which was executed by Tim McGraw.
Little Big Town won Vocal Group of the Year while the New Artist Award was presented to Maren Morris after her performance for her hit song “My Church.”
Underwood, who was nominated for four awards, won Female Vocalist of the Year for the fourth time.
Eric Church won Album of the Year for “Mr. Misunderstood” and Vocal Duo of the Year was awarded to Brothers Osborne.
Dolly Parton received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award for her country music. Jennifer Nettles and Pentatonix performed Parton’s famous hit “Jolene,” Reba McEntire performed “9 to 5” and Kacey Musgraves performed “Here You Come Again.”
There were scattered performances throughout the night. Some artists included Kelsea Ballerini, Underwood, Keith Urban, Eric Church, Morris, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line.
Beyoncé embraced her Texan roots and performed her song “Daddy Lessons” with the Dixie Chicks. She carried the performance and worked the stage while the Dixie Chicks struggled to keep up.
Alan Jackson and George Strait performed “Remember When” and “Troubadour” while CMA winner speeches from the past 50 years played in the background.
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood performed a duet of classic country music starting with “Jackson” by Jonny Cash. Coming out of retirement, Garth Brooks won Entertainer of the Year Award.
America’s veterans were honored with the Greenlight a Vet movement from Wal-Mart when the CMA arena was washed in green in support.