NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Miranda Lambert has reached new heights as a female country performer: The fiery singer is the most decorated female artist in the history of the Country Music Association Awards.
Lambert’s four wins Wednesday night give the 30-year-old a total of 11 CMA trophies throughout her career, putting her ahead of any other female act. Lambert’s fifth consecutive win for female vocalist of the year Wednesday beat a record set by herself, Reba McEntire and Martina McBride.
Lambert also took home album of the year for “Platinum,” single of the year for “Automatic” and music event of the year for “We Were Us” with Keith Urban.
“It’s really unbelievable,” she said backstage. “I felt like this whole night was about really celebrating music.”
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Lambert lost the night’s top award to Luke Bryan, giving the 38-year-old his first CMA. The win for entertainer of the year marked a shift in the genre, which has shunned the party-boy singer who is the leader the contemporary pack of bro-country performers, which includes acts like Florida Georgia Line.
“I have longed and sought after to get one of these in my hands … To get the respect of the CMA board … is a ginormous deal,” a happy Bryan said backstage. “I am really humbled. I think about the hard work it took to get here. I am so blessed this is from the CMAs and I will never take it for granted.”
Bryan beat out George Strait, Blake Shelton and Urban for entertainer of the year, and his successful year included the top-selling album “Crash My Party,” a string of hit songs and a top-grossing tour.
Bryan also was named last year’s entertainer of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards. He was snubbed when the Grammy Awards revealed their nominees last year, but his CMA win could help him earn some love from the Recording Academy when they announce their nominations next month.
Lambert, too, could be bringing home some Grammy gold since she was the reigning queen of Wednesday’s awards show. She stole the night with fashion choices that were winners, too, and performances. She sang twice onstage, including a country-tinged version of “All About That Bass” with breakthrough singer Meghan Trainor, where Shelton looked up and bopped his head.
Shelton, like his wife, made CMA history: He tied Strait and Vince Gill for five wins for male vocalist of the year.
“For me and my family, this may be the biggest night of our lives as far as music goes,” Shelton said backstage.
“I told my wife when we were walking off the stage, I go, ‘Miranda, I’m sorry, you only won four CMAs tonight. I mean, I’m really sorry,” he said as reporters laughed.
The theme of the CMAs seemed to be paired performances: Shelton sang with Ashley Monroe; the Doobie Brothers performed with Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Jennifer Nettles and Hunter Hayes; Strait and Eric Church performed “Cowboys Like Us”; and pop diva Ariana Grande sported a mini top and skirt as she sang the hit “Bang Bang” alongside Little Big Town, who won vocal group of the year.
But the night’s best collaboration was Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. The white-hot duo, hosting the CMAs for a seventh time, earned laugh after laugh for jokes that ranged from Ebola to Taylor Swift to Underwood’s baby bump.
Swift’s switch to pop from country was referred to as “Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder,” or PPTSD.
“President Barack Obama doesn’t care about PPTSD!” Paisley yelled. Underwood followed with: “I’m pretty sure it’s why the Democrats lost the senate.”
Underwood and Paisley sang a version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” calling it “Quarantine.” Paisley also earned roaring laughter when he noted that the ABC series “Black-ish,” which airs Wednesdays, would not be airing because of the CMAs.
“If you were expecting to see the show ‘Black-ish,' this ain’t it … I hope you’re enjoying ‘White-ish,’ ” he said.
Kacey Musgraves, who won two Grammy Awards earlier this year, won song of the year for “Follow Your Arrow,” which she co-wrote with Brandy Clark, who is openly gay and was among the contenders for new artist of the year. “Follow Your Arrow” features the lyrics, “So make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into.”
“For a song that I was told could never, and would never, be a single, it just blows my mind,” Musgraves said. “It’s just an anthem for all kinds of people so I could not be more proud.”
Musgraves switched gears backstage, closing with a story about a malfunction before her performance Wednesday night.
“Just saw y'all now, my panties totally came off,” she said as reporters laughed. “They were the stick-on kind. Look at this dress, there’s not much to work with.”