Country Music Association Awards show remembers tragedies
Posted November 8, 2017 8:21 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2017 9:09 a.m. EST
(CNN) — Country music's biggest night kicked off Wednesday with a remembrance of what has been a year of tragedy.
The 51st annual Country Music Association Awards in Nashville began with an all-star choir including Darius Rucker, Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum singing the Hootie & the Blowfish hit "Hold My Hand."
Hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley then paid tribute to the victims of mass shootings, including last month's massacre at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, and those affected by recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
"This has been a year marked by tragedy impacting countless lives including so many in our country music family," Underwood said. "So tonight we're gonna do what families do: Come together, pray together and cry together, too."
Paisley added, "Look, the way we see it, the best way to honor our fans is to play our music, loud and proud.
"Our music lifts people up, and that's what we're here to do tonight," he said. "So this year's show's dedicated to all those we lost and to all those who are still healing. We love you and we will never forget you."
The country music community was shaken when a gunman opened fire October 1 during the music festival in Las Vegas, leaving 58 people dead and hundreds injured.
Underwood performed a rendition of "Softly and Tenderly" in remembrance of industry leaders lost this past year and to honor the victims of the Las Vegas tragedy.
The mass shooting had been one of the subjects the CMA had initially banned journalists from discussing on the red carpet, a decision it reversed after much criticism, including from Paisley.
On Wednesday, Underwood and Paisley joked about the CMA's prohibition on political topics.
The pair sang a little ditty to the tune of Underwood's hit "Before He Cheats," changing it to include the lyrics, "And it's fun to watch it that's for sure/'Til little rocket man starts a nuclear war/ Maybe next time he'll think before he tweets," as they poked fun at President Donald Trump.
The show was all about the performances, which included pop star Pink singing her single "Barbies" and Urban debuting the song "Female," a response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment and assault scandal.
It also was a big night for Garth Brooks, who was named entertainer of the year for a record sixth time. Taylor Swift took song of the year for writing "Better Man," which Little Big Man recorded.
The following is the list of winners:
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Garth Brooks -- WINNER Luke Bryan Eric Church Chris Stapleton Keith Urban
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
"Better Man" -- Little Big Town "Blue Ain't Your Color" -- Keith Urban -- WINNER "Body Like a Back Road" -- Sam Hunt "Dirt on My Boots" -- Jon Pardi "Tin Man" -- Miranda Lambert
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to artist and producers)
"The Breaker" -- Little Big Town "From A Room: Volume 1" -- Chris Stapleton -- WINNER Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton "Heart Break" -- Lady Antebellum "The Nashville Sound" -- Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit "The Weight of These Wings" -- Miranda Lambert
SONG OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to songwriter)
"Better Man" -- WINNER Songwriter: Taylor Swift "Blue Ain't Your Color" Songwriters: Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Lee Olsen "Body Like a Back Road" Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne "Dirt on My Boots" Songwriters: Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley "Tin Man" Songwriters: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Kelsea Ballerini Miranda Lambert -- WINNER Reba McEntire Maren Morris Carrie Underwood
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Dierks Bentley Eric Church Thomas Rhett Chris Stapleton -- WINNER Keith Urban
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Lady Antebellum Little Big Town -- WINNER Old Dominion Rascal Flatts Zac Brown Band
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Brothers Osborne -- WINNER Dan + Shay Florida Georgia Line LOCASH Maddie & Tae
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to each artist)
"Craving You" -- Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris "Funny How Time Slips Away" -- Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson -- WINNER "Kill a Word" -- Eric Church featuring Rhiannon Giddens "Setting the World on Fire" -- Kenny Chesney with Pink "Speak to a Girl" -- Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Jerry Douglas (Dobro) Paul Franklin (Steel guitar) Dann Huff (Guitar) Mac McAnally (Guitar) -- WINNER Derek Wells (Guitar)
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to artist and directors)
"Better Man" -- Little Big Town "Blue Ain't Your Color" -- Keith Urban "Craving You" -- Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris "It Ain't My Fault" -- Brothers Osborne -- WINNER Directors: Wes Edwards and Ryan Silver "Vice" -- Miranda Lambert
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Lauren Alaina Luke Combs Old Dominion Jon Pardi -- WINNER Brett Young