Photo: TurkayNur

2021 Country Music Association Awards Highlights: Look + Listen

Though it never happened, the 2021 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards got a ‘buzz’ boost from rumors swirling around social media that Adele was going to make a surprise appearance on Wednesday night to sing her current No. 1 hit “Easy on Me” with Chris Stapleton.

But even without the 15-time UK Grammy-winner, it was still a big night for last night’s CMAs and Stapleton, who not only won four awards — including Album and Single of the Year, for his “Starting Over” LP and its title track — but performed twice at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

The neo-traditionalist Country singer dug into the bluesy heart of his single “Cold” and returned to the stage for an Aretha Franklin tribute with “Respect” star Jennifer Hudson — a medley of Willie Nelson’s “Night Life” and Jimmie Davis’ “You Are My Sunshine.”

Hudson wasn’t the only black woman to shake up the predominantly white country establishment. Mickey Guyton — who, after becoming the first African-American woman to co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, released her debut album, “Remember Her Name,” in September — rocked a supersize Afro for a statement performance of “Love My Hair.” Introduced by its muse, Faith Fennidy, a young African-American student who was sent home from school in Louisiana because her braided hair violated school policy, Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards, accompanied Guyton.

Another major CMA moment happened when Jimmie Allen became only the second black performer to ever win New Artist of the Year, after Darius Rucker 12 years ago. Bringing the flashy fashion again, Allen later returned for a vibrant victory lap with a performance of “Freedom Was a Highway.” 

Another country music wokeness moment came when Brothers Osborne singer TJ Osborne — who came out just nine months ago — kissed his boyfriend Abi Ventura after they won Vocal Duo of the Year. When the duo sang “Younger Me” later in the show — with an emotional TJ saying, “I always felt, truthfully felt like it would never be possible because of my sexuality to be here” — it eclipsed Luke Combs winning Entertainer of the Year.

CMA Awards 2021: The full list of nominees and winners

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Author; Al Denté

Photo: TurkayNur