50th Annual Country Music Association Awards

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50th Annual Country Music Association Awards
DateNovember 2, 2016
LocationBridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Hosted byBrad Paisley
Carrie Underwood
Most awardsChris Stapleton (2)
Most nominationsMaren Morris
Chris Stapleton (5 each)
Television/radio coverage
Viewership12.5 million
← 49th · CMA · 51st →

The 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards, commonly known as CMA 50 or the 50th CMA Awards, were held on November 2, 2016 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The ceremony recognizes some of the best country music released during the eligibility period (between July 1, 2015 and July 20, 2016[1]). It is the eleventh ceremony to be held at the Arena, the seventeenth to be held in November and the ninth night to be co-hosted by country stars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. The ceremony was directed by Paul Miller.

As it was the 50th anniversary of the awards, the Country Music Association ran an extensive promotional campaign and CMA Executive Produced Robert Deaton stated that the aim of the ceremony was to include a lot of "heritage artists" and honor the history of country music, stressing that there would be less of a focus on artists promoting their current singles as is usually the case so that greater time could be spent including "exciting throwbacks".[2]

Nominations for the 50th CMA Awards were revealed on October 5, 2016 during Good Morning America by Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban and Cam live from the Grand Ole Opry.[3]

Winners and nominees[edit]

The winners are in Bold.

Entertainer of the Year Album of the Year
Male Vocalist of the Year Female Vocalist of the Year
Vocal Group of the Year Vocal Duo of the Year
Single of the Year Song of the Year
New Artist of the Year Musician of the Year
Music Video of the Year Musical Event of the Year

Special Recognition Awards[edit]

Award Recipient Ref
CMA Pinnacle Award Kenny Chesney [4]
Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award Dolly Parton [5]
International Artist Achievement Award Kacey Musgraves [6]
Wesley Rose International Media Achievement Award Bob Harris [6]
Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award Gord Bamford [6]
International Country Broadcaster Award Paul McGuire [6]
Jo Walker Meador International Award Jeff Walker [6]


Jason Aldean helped Brooks & Dunn celebrate their 25th anniversary as a duo.
The performance by Dixie Chicks and Beyoncé received a mixed reception.
Eric Church collaborated with folk singer Rhiannon Giddens.
Performer(s) Song(s)
[A]Vince Gill with Ben Haggard
Brad Paisley and Roy Clark
Carrie Underwood
Charley Pride (with Brad Paisley)
Charlie Daniels
Reba McEntire
Dwight Yoakam
Clint Black
Ricky Skaggs
Alan Jackson
Randy Travis (with ensemble)
"Mama Tried"
"I've Got a Tiger By the Tail"
"Stand by Your Man"
"Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'"
"Mountain Music"
"Devil Went Down to Georgia"
"Guitars, Cadillacs"
"Killin' Time"
"Country Boy"
"Don't Rock the Jukebox"
"Forever and Ever, Amen"
Kelsea Ballerini "Peter Pan"
Brooks & Dunn
Jason Aldean
"Brand New Man"
Dierks Bentley
Elle King
"Different for Girls"
Maren Morris with The McCrary Sisters "My Church"
Garth Brooks
Trisha Yearwood
"Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue"
"Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man"
"Rose Garden"
"Don't Close Your Eyes"
"Golden Ring"
Carrie Underwood "Dirty Laundry"
Little Big Town "Better Man"
Miranda Lambert "Vice"
Tim McGraw "Humble and Kind"
Alan Jackson
George Strait
"Remember When"[B]
Keith Urban "Blue Ain't Your Color"
Dixie Chicks
"Daddy Lessons"
Thomas Rhett "Die a Happy Man"
Chris Stapleton
Dwight Yoakam
"Seven Spanish Angels"
Luke Bryan "Move"
Florida Georgia Line
Tim McGraw
"May We All"
Eric Church
Rhiannon Giddens
"Kill a Word"
Jennifer Nettles
Reba McEntire
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood
Martina McBride
Tribute to Dolly Parton
"9 to 5"
"Here You Come Again"
"I Will Always Love You"
Brad Paisley "Today"

^ A. Leading into the opening number, footage was played from past CMA ceremonies. Those featured were: Minnie Pearl, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Deana Carter, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Loretta Lynn, Little Big Town, Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Lee Ann Womack and Merle Haggard.
^ B. During Jackson and Strait's performance, pictures of many deceased country artists were shown on the screen behind and archive footage was played of past CMA Awards speeches in-between the two songs. Those featured were: Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Sonny James and George Jones.


Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the ceremony for the ninth time.
Presenter(s) Award
Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman Single of the Year
Olivia Newton-John, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Hayley Orrantia Song of the Year
Jennifer Garner New Artist of the Year
Faith Hill Album of the Year
Samantha Ponder and Kirk Herbstreit Vocal Duo of the Year
Josh Dallas, Cam and Cole Swindell Vocal Group of the Year
Vince Gill Female Vocalist of the Year
Sharon Stone Male Vocalist of the Year
Taylor Swift Entertainer of the Year


The 50th CMA Awards attracted a large amount of media attention for both the return of the Dixie Chicks to the CMA stage following their controversial statements about George Bush which saw them shut out of the country music industry as well as the appearance of Beyoncé. Their performance of "Daddy Lessons" from Beyoncé's Lemonade album polarised viewers, artists and critics alike, with some praising the collaboration[7] and others denouncing the performance, stating that Beyoncé, largely recognized as a pop/R&B artist, had no place at a country music awards show. Many saw the criticisms as retaliation to an outspoken woman of color standing alongside three equally strong independent women on the stage of an award show notorious for its conservative attitudes and lack of diversity, with several reviewers noting that many of the negative comments surrounding Beyoncé's inclusion at the ceremony as hateful and racist, pointing to the fact that there was not backlash on such a scale when Meghan Trainor performed with Miranda Lambert, Ariana Grande performed with Little Big Town or when Justin Timberlake performed with Chris Stapleton at previous CMA ceremonies, with several in fact referring to the latter as one of the best CMA performances of all time.[8] Scholarly attention given to the performance has described it as representing "genre surveillance" in country music broadly,[9] as well as a type of musical Black Lives Matter protest.[10] Many also took issue with Beyoncé being allegedly "anti-police" and branded the Dixie Chicks as "anti-American".[11]

Following the immediate, potent and unexpected backlash of some viewers, the CMA reportedly removed all mention of the performance from its social media website but later issued a statement explaining that "CMA has not erased any mentions of Beyoncé's performance. In advance of the broadcast, CMA removed a five second clip from ABC.com and CMA's Facebook page. The promo was unapproved and CMA removed it prior to broadcast. Beyoncé's performance with the Dixie Chicks was a highlight of the evening and we are continuing to share the amazing full-length performance clip via our official social channels".[12]

Immediately following the performance, Dixie Chick's lead singer Natalie Maines had enthusiastically shared a photograph of the quartet, declaring it as "one of the best weeks of [her] life", thanking Beyoncé and humorously mentioning how she had once swore she would never play on the CMA stage again.[13] In response to the controversy, Maines joked that "the CMA's called and asked us to co-host next year's show with Beyoncé. Unfortunately, I've got a thing that night so no"[14] before following with a quotation from Beyoncé's song "Formation".[15] She went on to say that she had "used" the CMA's in order to fulfil her dream to perform with Beyoncé "on their dime".[16]

Several country stars declared their support for Beyoncé, including Dierks Bentley who said that "Daddy Lessons" is undoubtedly a country song: "it's not just choruses and verses that could be intermixed anywhere as some pop songs are, it's a real story that she tells about what's going on in her life growing up". Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town echoed this, explaining "she's got some stories to tell - that's what makes country music great".[17]

Rhiannon Giddens (who performed earlier in the night alongside Eric Church) stated via a Facebook post that "there were two other people of color at the CMA Awards who were singing country music, Charley Pride and myself. Company I'm honoured to be in. Not to mention The McCrary Sisters who rocked as usual". The post also included a link to her performance with Church and the words "no it's not Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks, it was a little quieter but it was really saying something important to me". Responding to a comment who questioned whether she had discounted the "Daddy Lessons" performance as something that was not country music, Giddens added that "she doesn't make the genres" and that she was "just suggesting that there are other ways of making a statement" as the Beyoncé/Chicks performance has received "plenty of ink".[18] Giddens would later collaborate with Beyoncé as an instrumentalist on the song "Texas Hold 'Em", which appears on the latter's eighth studio album Cowboy Carter.


Whilst promoting the ceremony, advertisements played upon the frequent tagline for the CMA Awards ("country's biggest night"), instead referring to it as "country music's biggest night ever". They accompanied this with three mash up videos featuring popular contemporary artists singing a duet of two classic country songs (Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood performing I Will Always Love You/Country Roads Take Me Home,[19] Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert performing Crazy/Always on My Mind[20] and Luke Bryan with Little Big Town performing Mountain Music/On the Road Again[21]) with each concluding with the "then, now, forever country" tagline. Newer artists Scotty McCreery and Dustin Lynch also did videos of their own, with McCreery doing a cover of Jamey Johnson's "In Color" and Lynch doing Garth Brooks' "Friends In Low Places".

Forever Country[edit]

In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the awards, the CMA tasked Shane McAnally to produce and compose a special single featuring country stars from the past and present. Joseph Khan was chosen to direct what was described as "the biggest music video in country music history". Whilst initially conceived as a single track, Khan had the idea of a mash-up as three songs would cover more of the breadth of country music than a single track. In order to narrow down the options, only CMA song of the year winners were considered, with On the Road Again, Country Roads Take Me Home and I Will Always Love You being chosen. Similarly, only artists who were previous CMA award winners were approached to participate.[22] 29 artists sing on the track with 30 appearing in the music video however, as it was initially unknown how many artists would be able to take part, several of those who agreed early in the development process sang large amounts of all three tracks. The majority of the recording and filming took place in July to coincide with the CMA Music Festival.

Upon its release, Forever Country debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart, becoming only the third song in history to do so.[23] In a rare display, the rival Academy of Country Music Awards bestowed the Video of the Year Award to the CMA and Forever Country.

Artists Featured: Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Randy Travis, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Charley Pride, Ronnie Milsap, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Trisha Yearwood, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Willie Nelson, Brooks & Dunn, Alabama, Brett Eldredge, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride and Dolly Parton.

Covers Series
Alongside Forever Country, the CMA also promoted a "Forever Country Covers Series" which featured artists from around the world performing their favourite songs by CMA winning artists.[24] All in all, 42 artists took part:


  1. ^ "It's Balloting Season at CMA!". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  2. ^ "2016 CMA Awards: No 'Forever Country', But Lots of Throwbacks". The Boot.
  3. ^ "Here Are Your 2016 CMA Awards Nominees!".
  4. ^ "Kenny Chesney Receives Pinnacle Award at 2016 CMA Awards". Taste of Country.
  5. ^ "Dolly Parton Given Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award". Taste of Country.
  6. ^ a b c d e "CMA Announces Recipients of 2016 International Awards - CMA World - Country Music Association". 21 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Texas Takeover: Beyoncé Performs with the Dixie Chicks at the CMA Awards".
  8. ^ Moss, Marissa R. (5 November 2015). "See Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake's CMA Duet". Rolling Stone.
  9. ^ "Hearing Racial Politics in Beyoncé's and the Dixie Chicks' "Daddy Lessons": Practices of Genre Surveillance in Country Music | Rebekah Hutten - Academia.edu". www.academia.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  10. ^ Who's Your Daddy? : Beyoncé, the Dixie Chicks, and the Art of Outlaw Protest. Routledge. 2019-04-09. doi:10.4324/9781315165677-5. ISBN 978-1-315-16567-7. S2CID 199214752.
  11. ^ Hudak, Joseph (10 November 2016). "How Beyonce's CMA Awards Controversy Foreshadowed Trump's Victory". Rolling Stone.
  12. ^ Hudak, Joseph (4 November 2016). "CMA Responds to Beyonce, Dixie Chicks Performance Controversy". Rolling Stone.
  13. ^ "Natalie Maines Reflects on Unexpected CMA Awards Performance". Taste of Country.
  14. ^ "Natalie Maines on Twitter".
  15. ^ "Natalie Maines on Twitter".
  16. ^ "Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines Responds to Backlash Over CMA Awards Performance With Beyonce". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Beyonce's 'Daddy Lessons' Finding Support From Country Music Community". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood Stun in 2016 CMA Awards Promo". Taste of Country.
  20. ^ "Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert Channel Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson in CMA Awards Promo". 18 October 2016.
  21. ^ "See Luke Bryan, Little Big Town's Lively Cover of Willie Nelson, Alabama". Rolling Stone. 17 October 2016.
  22. ^ "'Forever Country': Inside Story of How Epic Mash-Up Song & Video Developed". Billboard.
  23. ^ "Making Music With Their Friends: 'Forever Country' Debuts at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs". Billboard.
  24. ^ "Cover Series - Forever Country".