The 2020 CMA Awards took over Nashville’s Music City Center on Wednesday, as some of the biggest names in country music celebrated the genre. From high-energy performances to powerful acceptance speeches, the show was filled with some truly memorable highlights — and many of them were provided just by Maren Morris!
Hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker — both of whom performed during the ceremony as well — the star-studded show also featured performances from Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen and Thomas Rhett, to name just a few.
Meanwhile, Morris took home three awards — including two for her song “The Bones,” which she also performed! This was also the year Miranda Lambert made history as the most-nominated female artist in CMA history, earning a total of 55 career nominations — including seven nods just this year!
Here’s a look at all the biggest moments and most memorable performances from the 2020 CMA Awards:
Opening Tribute to Charlie Daniels
An awesome #CMAawards performance by @DierksBentley, @BrothersOsborne, @AshleyMcBryde and @Jason_Aldean in honor of an incredible man – @CharlieDaniels💗 What an open! Turn on @ABCNetwork NOW to see an AMAZING lineup of performances unlike any other show! pic.twitter.com/6wOiytB55s
The show kicked off with a lively, energetic musical tribute to a country music icon we lost this year, the iconic Charlie Daniels. The medley featured performances from a slew of country stars — including Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde and Jason Aldean, among others — singing covers of some of Daniels’ biggest hits, including “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Morgan Wallen’s Big Night
A big congratulations to @MorganWallen for his win of #CMAawards New Artist of the Year! pic.twitter.com/yTd4PNd35G
Wallen was one of the night’s first big acts, and the rising country star took the stage for his first live televised performance since his planned Saturday Night Live appearance was cancelled back in October. Wallen performed his song “More Than My Hometown,” but paid tribute to his hometown of Sneedville, Tennessee, with a backdrop showing a Sneedville road sign. Wallen later went on to snag his first ever CMA Award when he was named New Artist of the Year.
Maren Morris’ Even Bigger Night!
A HUGE congratulations to @MarenMorris for her #CMAawards wins for Single of the Year and Song of the Year for "The Bones!" pic.twitter.com/jdoLwZBopZ
The stunning songstress took home the coveted award for Song of the Year, for her track “The Bones,” and she took to the stage in a stylish black ensemble. “All of my friends are in this category. You wrote the most amazing songs in country music this year. I’m proud to be a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. I grew up obsessing over y’all’s YouTube videos, and I moved here and somehow got into rooms with you. This means so much.”
Morris went on to perform a stunning rendition of “The Bones” — which also nabbed her the award of Single of the Year. Morris rounded out her victory hat trick when we took home the award for Female Vocalist of the Year as well!
Justin Bieber Makes His CMA Awards Debut With Dan + Shay
We could keep watching this @DanAndShay and @JustinBieber performance on the #CMAawards for 10,000 hours…and 10,000 more. pic.twitter.com/R2edA9xoLy
Justin Bieber, Dan Smyers, and Shay Mooney wowed with a performance of their 2019 collaboration, “10,000 Hours.” The performance was filmed at California’s iconic Hollywood Bowl, which was beautifully lit up in blue and purple and featured an entirely empty audience, giving the performance a somewhat surreal, dream-like quality that really stood out among the night’s many remarkable numbers.
Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker Honor Mac Davis
Wow! What a performance by @RebaMcEntire and @DariusRucker of "In the Ghetto" in tribute to Mac Davis on the #CMAawards! pic.twitter.com/NawKAdIUlk
The country superstars didn’t just co-host the show, they also performed together! In tribute to the late, great Mac Davis — Who died in September at the age of 78 — McEntire ad Rucker shared the spotlight for a moving duet of Davis’ powerful humanitarian hit, “In the Ghetto.”
Miranda Lambert Isn’t Settling
There was absolutely no settling with that incredible performance from @mirandalambert 🤩 #CMAawardspic.twitter.com/823U0wZM4K
The country queen took the stage for a performance of “Settling Down,” that showed just why she’s the most-nominated singer in the history of the CMAs. The stunning songstress wowed with nothing more than her voice and two guitarists backing up her emotional set that impressed the crowd.
Chris Stapleton Brings Tranquility
Always a pleasure to see @ChrisStapleton perform! #CMAawardspic.twitter.com/2bAtp7asGi
There’s something about Chris Stapleton’s old-timey country twang that is truly hypnotic. The celebrated musician came out, joined by his wife, Morgane, and delivered a beautiful, meditative performance of his romantic tune, “Starting Over.”
Keith Urban Serenades Us From Australia
Thanks to @KeithUrban’s performance, we can see the sunshine for the first time in awhile ☀️ #CMAawardspic.twitter.com/pLCmQnDozX
Given the pandemic, several performances at this year’s CMAs were pre-taped or performed remotely. For Keith Urban — who is currently in Australia with his family — this meant delivering an intimate, powerful performance of “God Whispered Your Name” while down under.
Eric Church Shares a Powerful Message
And last but certainly not least, your 2020 #CMAawards Entertainer of the Year is…@EricChurch! This is his first time winning in this category and we couldn't be more thrilled for him! Congrats to all of tonight's nominees and winners!👏🏆 pic.twitter.com/BFd9gopD0N
In a surprise win, Eric Church won the biggest award of the evening when he was named Entertainer of the Year — the first time he’s won the honor after being nominated four times. Church delivered a powerful and emotional acceptance speech that called for unity and peace.
“This year, at least for me, has been about the loss of this year. Loss of life, loss of playing shows, loss of freedom, loss of kids being in school. And you know what the win is? The win is, we all were here tonight together,” Church shared. “I think, I believe this, I really believe this, it’s going to be music that brings us out of this. That is the one thing that is going to save the entire world. Politicians are about division. Music is about unity. And I promise you, it’s going to take everybody in this room to unite.”
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