It was a night that had a little something for everybody as the 2012 CMA Awards Show in Nashville Thursday featured a first-time win for Eric Church (Album of the Year), two big first-time wins for Little Big Town (Single and Vocal Group), a musical salute to Willie Nelson who was presented the first-ever CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award; and three big wins for Blake Shelton, including the coveted Entertainer of the Year.
Shelton also won his third CMA Male Vocalist award and shared Song of the Year honors with wife, Miranda Lambert (see photo)—who also won her third Female Vocalist trophy—for their co-written “Over You,” a song inspired by Blake’s older brother who died more than 20 years ago.
“I lost my brother in a car wreck when I was 14 years old,” recalled Shelton as a tearful Lambert stood next to him on stage. “My dad told me ‘you should write a song about your brother.’ I lost my dad in January. It’s so amazing to me that even after he’s gone, he’s still right. I just needed the right person to write it with.” The win was among the most popular of the night with the audience in the arena.
Other highlights of the three-hour show, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, included:
—Single of the Year win by Little Big Town for the summer hit “Pontoon.” The group’s Kimberly Schlapman got a big laugh from the audience in Bridgestone Arena as she chastised one of the co-hosts, “Brad Paisley, you just told my mama what motor boatin’ is!”
—An all too brief, but simply lovely guitar tribute to the late Andy Griffith as Paisley played the classic Andy Griffith Show’s iconic theme song.
—“Baby Don’t Rush,“ an impeccable performance by Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill in what may have been the musical highlight of the night.
Other performances during the show included:
“One of Those Nights”—Tim McGraw
“Fastest Girl in Town”—Miranda Lambert
“I Saw Goodbye In Her Eyes”—by Zack Brown Band
“Tip It On Back”—Dierks Bentley
“Better Dig Two”—The Band Perry
“Even if it Breaks Your Heart”—Eli Young Band
“Begin Again“—Taylor Swift
“Pontoon”— Little Big Town
“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”—Luke Bryan
“All I Ever Wanted”—Hunter Hayes
“Southern Comfort Zone”—Brad Paisley
“Blown Away”—Carrie Underwood
“Take A Little Ride”—Jason Aldean
“Come Over”—Kenny Chesney
The musical salute to Willie Nelson featured Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw with Faith Hill and, of course, Willie, singing classic Nelson tunes: “Always On My Mind,” “Crazy,” “Whiskey River” and “On the Road Again.”