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Jason Aldean nabs first CMA Award; Sugarland, Lady A win as well

Macon native Jason Aldean claimed his first CMA trophy at Wednesday's ceremony.

Macon native Jason Aldean claimed his first CMA trophy at Wednesday's ceremony.

Somewhere in Nashville, Jason Aldean is having some kind of party.

The Macon-born singer was starting to become the Susan Lucci of the Country Music Association Awards, a favorite with fans whose career eluded industry recognition – at least from country music’s most meaningful organization.

But at the 45th Annual CMAs Wednesday night, Aldean scored his inaugural trophy in one of the most prestigious categories of the ceremony – album of the year, for his platinum-selling “My Kinda Party.”

With his black cowboy hat tipped down to his nose, Aldean expressed an “Oh, man, what a year,” before thanking his family and fans. He also brought producer Michael Knox on stage to accept the trophy, saying, ‘This is the guy who found me in a club in Atlanta, Georgia, 13 years ago. I wouldn’t be here without this guy.”

Lady Antebellum, which has Georgia ties, won vocal group of the year.

Lady Antebellum, which has Georgia ties, won vocal group of the year.

Aldean lost male vocalist of the year to Blake Shelton (whose wife Miranda Lambert nabbed female vocalist) and the coveted entertainer of the year to a giddy Taylor Swift (who also won the award in 2009), but notched a second CMA for musical event of the year for “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” his crossover duet with Kelly Clarkson.

But victories for Georgia’s other multiple nominee, the Zac Brown Band, were non-existent.

The Atlanta band was shut out of its five nominations, ceding single and song of the year honors to The Band Perry’s inescapable ballad, “If I Die Young,” vocal group of the year to fellow Georgians (some of them, anyway) Lady Antebellum and musical event of the year and album to Aldean.

But the sextet earned a deserved standing ovation for a soulful rendition of “Georgia on My Mind.”

ZBB was joined on stage by Peach State legend Gregg Allman. The music veteran, who canceled his fall tour in September for health reasons, looked a bit thinner than usual, but sounded completely Allman-esque with gravelly shades to his voice.

Sugarland claimed its fifth straight win in the vocal duo category.

Sugarland claimed its fifth straight win in the vocal duo category.

Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles used the first seconds of her acceptance speech to salute Allman, sheepishly stating, “Mr. Gregg Allman, that was me on the red carpet who reached out and shook your hand.”

She and partner Kristian Bush – who snagged their fifth consecutive vocal duo of the year award – dedicated their win to their fans.

“Our fans saved us this year,” Bush said. Added Nettles, “Thank you to the good folks of Indiana.”

The ceremony, which aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, was heavy on performances, with a handful of awards shoe-horned in during the three-hour production.

For the fourth consecutive year, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley hosted to varying degrees of success.

Jokes poking fun of Keith Urban’s height and Justin Bieber’s paternity suit (Little Jimmy Dickens – dressed in leather jacket and cocked baseball cap — appeared to represent a stressed-out, aged Bieber. Ha?) were immature and mean-spirited.

But a hokey bit with the hosts checking to see if a Faith Hill Barbie and Ken doll Tim McGraw were anatomically correct was amusing only because the real Hill and McGraw, giggling and blushing in their seats, were such good sports.

The performances of the evening started off wobbly, with an inconsistent “Footloose” to open the show, courtesy of Shelton and the song’s original voice, Kenny Loggins.

An hour later, Shelton acknowledged on Twitter that, “Yes, ‘Footloose’ was completely screwed up!”

But, while some live displays faltered – Swift’s off-key “Ours,” played solo acoustic on a couch, inexplicably drew an ovation, while Matt Nathanson’s Bono impersonation during “Run” with Sugarland was a distracting irritant – other moments were hashtag-worthy.

Lionel Richie – aka Dorian Gray – was a hoot (sometimes unintentionally) singing “Deep River Woman” with Little Big Town (a song he performed with Alabama on the 1986 CMAs), a weak “Stuck on You” with Darius Rucker and “Dancing on the Ceiling” with Rascal Flatts, a good choice given their poppy tendencies.

But it might have been Leesburg’s Luke Bryan who sizzled the most with a sexy performance of  “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).” As a troupe of girls clad in fishnets and boots engaged in some Bob Fosse-like chair dancing, Bryan, who lost new artist of the year to The Band Perry, showed some impressive hip-swiveling of his own during the honky-tonk anthem.

A significant moment in the show came with a touching tribute to Glen Campbell, who earlier this year announced he has Alzheimer’s disease. Vince Gill, Paisley and Urban paid tribute with “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and “Witchita Lineman,” respectively.

Urban appeared the most emotional, his voice cracking as he said, “Growing up across the world, Glen showed me what country music was and how much it meant to people, and with his farewell album and tour, he’s still showing us how it’s done.”

At the end of the homage, Campbell, who was seen mouthing the words to his songs, took the stage, escorted by his wife, Kim. He strapped on a guitar, but did not play.

Winners at the 45th Annual CMA Awards

Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift

Album of the Year – Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party”

Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert

Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton

New Artist: The Band Perry

Single of the Year: The Band Perry, “If I Die Young”

Song of the Year: The Band Perry, “If I Die Young”

Musical Event of the Year: Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

Vocal Group – Lady Antebellum

Vocal Duo – Sugarland

Music Video: Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter, “You and Tequila”

Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally

22 comments Add your comment

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


November 10th, 2011
1:20 am

I liked the show a lot. The Faith and Tim dolls were funny.


November 10th, 2011
6:46 am

The little old man was the Legendary Little Jimmy Dickens who has been with the Opry for 60 plus years. Know the history if you cover country music.


November 10th, 2011
7:53 am

“a wrinkled, short man…” ? Come on, if you don’t know Little Jimmy Dickens you shouldn’t be writing about country music. He and Paisley have been very close for all of Brad’s career. Clue: They introduced him as “little Justin Bieber.” And I have to disagree with you about Gregg Allman. His voice sounded very weak, nothing of the old Gregg, and he seemed to have alot of trouble remembering the words to “Georgia On My Mind.”

Notso Fast

November 10th, 2011
8:09 am

Some good spots but where did “country music” go? We have to accept that the George Jones, George Strait type of country is gone. We can’t watch just a man and his band play, we have to have other attractions going on like girls flying around on ribbons or dancing on stage with the “so call” star. All are good but none are great.


November 10th, 2011
8:21 am

I didn’t get to watch last night, but I hope Aldean gave a lot of props to Brantley Gilbert. Since he wrote a majority of songs on that album.


November 10th, 2011
8:29 am

So happy Jason Aldean won Album of the year but bombed that Zac Brown didn’t win anything. The heck? Overall, the show was good and I loved watching Lionel Richie perform……….such a natural.


November 10th, 2011
8:34 am

I don’t remember him thanking Jason Aldean. But you are right, he should have given him props.


November 10th, 2011
9:21 am

Really ??? You are writing about country music and you do not know little Jimmy Dickens. Your opinion is that Brad and Carrie had “varying degress of success”. You say Taylor was off key. HUH?


November 10th, 2011
9:40 am

AJC, if you are going to assign a reporter to cover a music show, please make sure they know their music history. And one without an attitude would work nicely too.


November 10th, 2011
9:55 am

I feel like ZBB gets ripped off each time. They deserve to win much more than they do. They are unmatchable. Can’t wait to see them in their Texas concert this weekend!


November 10th, 2011
10:12 am

I loved the beginning of the show with Brad,Carrie and the best country music performer around Rocking Randall Hank JR. I do agree that Zac Brown Band was ripped off. The Band Perry you have to be kidding. They are no comparsion to the likes of Zac Brown!!


November 10th, 2011
10:20 am

My thoughts exactly! Colder Weather should’ve been a shoe-in for Song of the Year, if not Single of the Year too. And Vocal Group too instead of Lady A. Grrrr. I get so disappointed. I guess I shouldn’t take it so seriously! :)

Melissa Ruggieri

November 10th, 2011
10:32 am

My apologies for not recognizing Little Jimmy Dickens. I don’t cover country music full-time and didn’t recognize him. It’s been duly noted and changed in the story.



November 10th, 2011
11:18 am

This mess is NOT (real) Country & Western, but plastic, manufactured pop “country”. Real C&W = Hank Sr (& 3), George Jones, Buck Owens, Waylon, Merle & Cash.


November 10th, 2011
11:22 am

I guess this article was written my a a person hired as a critic, so he did. As a common viewer, I loved the whole show, errors (live performances) and all. I thought it was the fastest 3 hours in TV on Wednesday.

old time

November 10th, 2011
2:28 pm

good entertainment but got the feeling the awards were bought by the record companies. no , George Strait Trace Adkins or Toby Kieth,just to mention a few . Maybe it was a tribute to george[no show]Jones


November 10th, 2011
3:50 pm

where do you people get that Brantley G wrote “the majority of songs on that album”? since when is one or two the majority? get real.


November 10th, 2011
7:19 pm

I’m no Kenny Chesney fan, but I thought his performance–a duet of “You and Tequila” with Grace Potter–was the best of the evening.


November 10th, 2011
11:02 pm

Brantley wrote 2 of the 15. That is not a majority. He lets Jason cover the songs, I think he’s okay with the outcome.


November 13th, 2011
2:33 am

Why didn’t ZBB win anything??? I’m shocked and think they deserve something? Also Kenny Chesney is still on it with his music, wish he would have won more too :( I saw them both live on Going Coastal tour with Billy Currington and Uncle kracker and swear there will never be another show to top that! It was amazing!!

Kiersten Dunson

November 15th, 2011
5:19 pm

You wouldn’t feel it but I’ve wasted all day digging for some articles about this. You might be a lifesaver, it was an excellent read and has helped me out to no end. Cheers!