Live from the CMA Awards: Big night for Blake Shelton
Posted November 4, 2012
11:43: BACKSTAGE: The entertainer of the year explains award show trophy placement in the Shelton-Lambert household: "We've got some shelves that we put stuff on, and we're proud of every single one of these things ... But that song of the year award? It will have its own shelf. It will have spotlights on it, an alarm, trip wires, a landmine if you walk toward it, all that stuff. It's a really big deal to Miranda and me." And what about the other awards you won tonight, Blake? "Winning male vocalist of the year is the biggest deal in the world to me. Winning entertainer of the year is a bigger deal to me. But is it leaving me wondering what's next? Hell, no. It's just making me go, 'Oh my gosh, I'm starting to become one of those guys that I've read about, that I've studied, that I've worshiped.'"
11:32: BACKSTAGE: "We love getting to celebrate together as artists, musicians and songwriters," says Miranda Lambert of her work with husband Blake Shelton. So for them, their shared win for song of the year is the most meaningful of the night. "Secretly, we just wanted to take that one home." Lambert also shared her husband's philosophy in the press room: "I feel like there's a time for every artist to have their time, and you don't know when that time is going to be over or when it's going to happen, so you just wait on the edge of your chair." That chair just happens to be that big, high-backed, spinning chair he inhabits on The Voice. "He's on national television two nights a week every single week representing us."
11:30: Shelton and Lambert are not the only spouses to score at the CMAs tonight. Other married winners include Keifer and Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square, and Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town.
10:56: AWARD: Reba McEntire and Tim Allen, whose sitcoms premiere Friday night, present the final award of the night: entertainer of the year to ... Blake Shelton. That's three, doubling his career total. "You can tell I didn't think I was gonna win this one," Shelton cracks. "I'm still Willied out -- I didn't even go backstage to change. When I came to Nashville, I had two goals: to have a gold record and be in the Grand Ole Opry. Entertainer of the year? What is this?!? I'm representing country music the best I can. I love country music more than anyone in this room." Ooh, them's fightin' words in Nashville.
10:44: It's Willie Time! The Willie Nelson tribute kicks off with Lady Antebellum (You Were Always on My Mind, Crazy) before tossing to Blake Shelton and Keith Urban (Whiskey River). Faith Hill and Tim McGraw take over (Good Hearted Woman) before calling the Red-Headed Stranger up to the stage. He performs On the Road Again with the help of all those folks before accepting a huge trophy from Brad Paisley.
10:36: BACKSTAGE: Hunter Hayes may be on tour with Carrie Underwood and touted as the Next Big Thing (a title confirmed by his best new artist win tonight), but that hasn't cured the 21-year-old's nerves about performing for Nashville's biggest and brightest: "It was extremely intimidating. I've bought their records, I've paid for their concert tickets, I'm a huge fan of the people sitting in this room. I respect them so much, and I want them to like me. It's nerve-racking."
10:32: The Nashville promo moment is here: Stars Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere and guest star Kimberly Williams-married-to-Brad Paisley introduce the female vocalist of the year: Miranda Lambert for the third consecutive year. "I don't necessarily deserve this, but I'll sure take it," she says before paying each of her fellow nominees a compliment.
10:29: Kenny Chesney, who already won musical event for Feel Like a Rock Star (with Tim McGraw), takes the stage for Come Over.
10:20: AWARD: Martina McBride runs down the names of the male vocalist nominees before calling Blake Shelton's name. "I'm gonna be honest, I've had a couple of drinks since song of the year," he admits. "I thought it was going to be Jason or Eric, so I'm gonna wing it. Thank you for not forgetting me. I know I have a side job but country music is what I do," says the Voice judge.
10:16: Carrie introduces "an Idol singing with an icon": Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill performing Don't Rush.
10:14: BACKSTAGE: Vocal duo of the year winners Thompson Square are still settling into their newfound fame. "It's so surreal," notes Keifer Thompson. "We were just saying to each other, can you believe we were serving drinks down the street (at the Wheel), singing for tips for eight years, and we just won this award?"
10:09: Paisley warns viewers that performer Jason Aldean is about "two points from losing his license" before encouraging them to Take a Little Ride with the entertainer of the year nominee.
10:07: AWARD: Little Big Town becomes the first act to win more than one award, this time for vocal group. They thank their record label and Jesus in the same breath. When one of the band members goes on talking after the director has already switched back to Brad Paisley, the host says, "That's OK. They've got Twitter. I'm pretty sure whatever he said, it finishes with Jesus."
10:02: Now it's Carrie's turn on the stage, where she performs Blown Away.
9:47: AWARD: The Band Perry, who won best new artist last year, returns to pass on the prize to 21-year-old Hunter Hayes. So yes, bartenders of Nashville, you can serve him a congratulatory drink tonight. After that, it's over to Paisley on the performance stage, where he does Southern Comfort Zone with the help of a choir.
9:44: Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band join forces for Georgia Woods.
9:39: Brantley Gilbert mumbles his way through Country Must Be Country Wide. At first, all I could make out was "Countrywide" and assumed he was singing about the subprime mortgage crisis.
9:32: After a nice little tribute to CMA Hall of Fame inductee Connie Smith, Paisley and Underwood introduce Faith Hill, doing American Heart.
9:32: BACKSTAGE: Album of the year winner Eric Church shares a way-back moment with reporters. "When I first stated touring, it was not cool to wear a country music artist's shirt on a college campus," notes the Appalachian State alumnus. "There was still that stigma that country music was outside of cool. ... I think country music has always been the coolest format. It's in a great space creatively, to allow it to develop."
9:24: Hunter Hayes makes his bid to be country's answer to Justin Bieber with Wanted. As we go to commercial, we find out Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup won Video of the Year. Thank you, producers, for not putting that song back in my head. "Red Solo cup, I fill you up ... proceed to party." (Shoot! It got in my head anyway.)
9:20: AWARD: Eric Church takes album of the year honors for the first time for Chief. "I've spent a lot of my career wondering where I fit in -- too country? too rock? I want to thank you for giving somewhere to hang my hat." (That would be a black baseball cap, which seems to outnumber the cowboy hats here tonight.)
9:19: Luke Bryan turns his baseball cap around and proceeds to Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.
9:08: As he introduces LIttle Big Town's live performance of Pontoon, Paisley tells singer Kimberly Roads, "Your grandmother unfriended me on Facebook and she wants you to call her."
9:02: Paisley plays the theme to The Andy Griffith Show as images of the late entertainer flash on the screen above. "We love you, Andy!" he says before introducing Taylor Swift's new number, Begin Again.
8:52: AWARD: A pixie-haired Kellie Pickler and no-haired Darius Rucker present the award for song of the year to Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton for Over You. The normally comedic couple both show a lot of emotion. Shelton says that his dad urged him to cope with his brother's death by writing a song about it, before passing away himself. "He's dead and he's still right! I just needed the right person to write and sing it with," he says, tossing to Lambert who chokes up as she gives her thank-you speech.
8:49: Eric Church summons up his inner Springsteen on the performance stage.
8:46: The Band Perry performs Better Dig Two. It's their second hit song about dying young. That's a streak that would make any goth band proud.
8:34: Zac Brown puts on his finest ski cap for Goodbye in Her Eyes, followed by Dierks Bentley doing Step It On Back.
8:22: AWARD: The trophy for vocal duo of the year will be going home with Thompson Square, as predicted by USA TODAY's own Brian Mansfield. "Ever since I was about five years old, I used to practice in the kitchen with one of my mama's Mason jars for this moment," admits Shawna Thompson. After that, it's back to the stage, where Miranda Lambert rips through Fastest Girl in Town. (By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, it took 22 minutes to get to our first sighting of a Nashville cast member -- Hayden Panettiere -- in the audience.)
8:18: Before tossing to Tim McGraw (who's performing One of Those Nights), Carrie and Brad decide to put everyone's mind at ease with their contingency plan should Sugarland's very pregnant Jennifer Nettles go into labor during the show. "Other shows may give you a live wedding or divorce. This is country's biggest night. We're gonna induce!"
8:12: AWARD: Little Big Town wins single of the year for Pontoon. Band members Kimberly Roads and Karen Fairchild thank Brad Paisley for explaining "motorboating" to their moms.
8:09: Brad and Carrie inform Willie Nelson that they'll be stripping him of all his CMA awards. "Apparently, there have been doping charges," adds Carrie.
8:05: Monologue time: After changing the Maroon 5 song to "Moves Like Haggard," hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood decide to leave Jason Aldean alone for the time being -- the first joke is actually about Taylor Swift. After joking about football trades, host Brad Paisley jokes that the best trade was made by the Kennedys, who "traded Arnold Schwarzenegger for Taylor Swift." (Carrie awkwardly clues him in about Swift's breakup with Conor Kennedy, leading to an inevitable "never ever ever getting back together" crack. But it was better than the Gangnam Style dance number.)
8:03 p.m. ET: Welcome to USA TODAY's live coverage of the CMA Awards. Jason Aldean, who's looking for a big night here, kicks off the show with The Only Way I Know, dedicating the number to Hurricane Sandy victims in New York and New Jersey. He gets an assist from Luke Bryan and Eric Church.
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