Luke Combs was crowned entertainer of the year at Wednesday's Country Music Association Awards, the second year in a row that he's taken home the night's top honor. "I want to thank country music for making my dreams come true," Combs said, dedicating the award to his wife and newborn child. His win came after a performance-packed three-hour show that honored country icons and new voices. "Country is sounding more country than it has in a long time tonight," Combs said. He also won album of the year for Growin' Up, per the AP.
The show, which was hosted by singer Luke Bryan and NFL great Peyton Manning at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., opened with Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Reba McEntire playing tribute to the late country queen Loretta Lynn. The superstar trio performed a medley of Lynn's hits, including "You Ain't Woman Enough," "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin'," and "Coal Miner's Daughter," as images of Lynn were projected behind them and audience members sang along. Rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, who like Lynn died last month, was honored with a fiery tribute by Elle King and the Black Keys. Here, some of the other winners:
- Lifetime achievement award: Alan Jackson accepted this honor, recounting how a movie about Hank Williams inspired him to move to Nashville when he was flat broke. He teared up during his speech, ending it by telling the audience, "I'm still living that honky-tonk dream, y'all."
- Vocal duo: Brothers Osborne
- Vocal group: Old Dominion
- Male vocalist: Chris Stapleton, with his sixth win in the category
- Female vocalist and new artist: emerging country superstar Lainey Wilson, who was the leading nominee with six nods
- Song of the year: "Buy Dirt," by Jordan Davis
Joining country's biggest stars for the evening were Katy Perry and actors Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon, who are playing Tammy Wynette and George Jones in an upcoming Showtime limited series and presented Combs with the night's top honor. Perry took the stage and performed "Where We Started" with Thomas Rhett during the show.
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