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Brooks takes CMA Entertainer of the Year

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 – Garth Brooks won the biggest honor of the night at the 50th Country Music Association Awards, Entertainer of the Year.

"Very sweet," said Brooks. "Wow. It's cool." He proceeded to thank his management, band, road family and his wife, Trisha Yearwood.

"Thank you for a wonderful, wonderful run," he said. "The people. Thank you so much for showing up for this tour."

"We are so damn lucky to be part of this thing called country music," he said.

Thomas Rhett won the first award of the night for Single of the Year for "Die a Happy Man." Lori McKenna won Song of the Year for "Humble and Kind."

Rhett thanked the "Lord for opening the doors to make this all happen for us." He thanked his wife who was the inspiration for the song.

"God, this is a dream come true," Rhett said. "This is going to go in a special place."

The honor came after an opening featuring current and past stars singing hits. Vince Gill strummed Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" with the Hag's youngest son "Ben, helping out. Alan Jackson sang "Don't Rock the Jukebox" and Dwight Yoakam "Guitars, Cadillacs."

The opening ended with Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever Amen" with Travis singing "Amen." Co-hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley seemed to give him support.

McKenna's "Humble And Kind" was a hit for Tim McGraw. He accompanied her onstage. "Oh good Lord," said McKenna." I have a job in this town because of this guy's wife...I thank god every day that I get to write for a living."

Faith Hill, who is McGraw's wife, cut several McKenna songs, giving her a break in Nashville. Hill was in tears during McKenna's speech.

Maren Morris won New Artist of the Year, ostensibly for her hit "My Church," which she had just performed. "I can't win this award after performing," she said. "This is so crazy. I have amazing seats tonight."

"Last year, I sat across the street at a bar and watched this show," Morris said through tears. "I never thought as a songwriter I'd be here today."

Eric Church won Album of the Year for "Mr. Misunderstood," released one year ago as a surprise disc. "I'm not sure what's better, winning the award or Faith Hill fixing my tie," he said after Hill, presenting the award, did so. "We started this a year ago. We surprised everybody with this album. We trusted the fans, and we gave it to the fans first. It's because of the fans that this happened, and I love you."

Brothers Osborne won New Artist of the Year. "I hate to be the one to say I didn't prepare a speech," said TJ Osborne, "I didn't." He said he expected to be thanking Florida Georgia Line. "If we can do, you can do it," said his brother John. "Whoah."

Little Big Town took the Vocal Group of the Year honor.

Kenny Chesney was honored with the Pinnacle Award, only the third act to win it - Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift were the other two.

""Standing up here in this spot tonight looking at a lot of friends and a lot of heroes that have touched my life in so many ways, take a kid from East Tennessee and show that this was possible," said Chesney.

"To me, it means connection with a lot of people that have invested a lot of their life in me," he said, adding, "Thanks for loving the music. Thanks for giving me an amazing life."

Carrie Underwood won the Female Vocalist of the Year award for the fourth time. She gave a slew of thanks. I've just become suddenly stupid," she said. "I love you all. God bless you guys. I love you so much. I don't know what else to say."

Guitarist Dann Huff previously won the Musician of the Year award.

Dolly Parton won the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. "This is such a great compliment. This is such a wonderful night."

"Referring to winning the Willie Nelson award, "This is an absolute high for me," she said to laughter.

"I really am very proud to receive this," Parton said.

"I just want to thank everybody for letting my little girl dreams come true," Parton said, adding, "I had a big speech, but they wouldn't let me give it."

Chris Stapleton won Male Vocalist of the Year. "I've gotten to be a fan so much tonight," he said. "I've cried just watching everybody, music I've grown up on."

"It means so much to get to be a part of country music," he said. "These are the best people in the world."

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CD reviews

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If naming your release "Gunslinger," you'd better let it rip and go for a harder country sound, especially if donning a black cowboy hat on the cover. The reality does not exactly match that sentiment for Garth Brooks, but at times he comes mighty close. The high points for Brooks are the three most traditional country songs - a couple of honky tonkers ("Honky-Tonk Somewhere" and "Cowboys and Friends") and a ballad ("Whiskey to Wine"). »»»
Man Against Machine CD review - Man Against Machine
After releasing his debut album in 1989, Garth Brooks released music almost every year until he announced his retirement in 2000. Since then, he has released repackaged hit collections, new music on "Scarecrow" and "The Lost Sessions" and last year's cover song collection "Blame it All on My Roots." Over the years, there have been live recordings, concert and music video collections. The country songwriter became a pop culture icon, transcending genre to become »»»
Blame It All On My Roots - Five Decades of Influences CD review - Blame It All On My Roots - Five Decades of Influences
Garth Brooks is back with his first release of "new" material since 2001's "Scarecrow." (Truth in advertising, his "The Ultimate Hits," which actually is part of the new box set, included four new songs back in 2007). And it's quite an undertaking - four CDs of covers - Country Classics, Classic Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul and Melting Pot, an amalgam of country, rock, soul and folk; the two-CD set, "The Ultimate Set" and a DVD of his live performance in Vegas. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kristofferson gives insight, but no easy answers – When they say music gets better with age, they're not always just talking about songs alone; sometimes they're also referring to the listener. When Kris Kristofferson sings, "Well, I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt," to smartly open "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," he... »»»
Concert Review: No sugarcoating, Welch dishes out an experience – Gillian Welch (accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings), celebrated her "The Harrow & The Harvest" album with a powerful night of music. She apologized many times for the utter unhappiness expressed through this album's songs, admitting it's "not the most chipper album" at one point.... »»»
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