The CMA’s – Country Music’s Biggest Night

by | Nov 9, 2020

The CMA’s – Country Music’s Biggest Night – air live on ABC on Wednesday, November 11. Consider this your guide to performers, nominees, and predictions. The iconic Reba McEntire joins forces with Darius Rucker to host this year’s show.

Who’s Performing

Eric Church, Luke Combs, Flordia Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, and Rascal Flatts are all scheduled to perform.


The CMA’s are notable for outstanding matchups, like the career-launching performance by Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake in 2014, or The Chicks and Beyonce’s surprise rendition of “Daddy Issues” during the 50th anniversary show. My fav? When George Strait and Alan Jackson honored the late George Jones in 2013 with a chilling version of “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” George’s signature song. 

Tune in for these all-star collaborations:

  • Gabby Barrett and Charlie Puth with “I Hope”
  • Darius Rucker and Lady A come together for “Beers and Sunshine.”
  • The first-ever live performance of “Be A Light” featuring Thomas Rhett, Reba, Hillary Scott, and Chris Tomlin.
  • Pulling double-duty, hosts Reba and Darius will also offer a not-to-be-missed duet. 

The Awards

You might be thinking, “How can they give out awards in such an unusual year that limited touring and other normalcy?”

The eligibility period began last year on July 1, 2019, and ran through June 30, 2020, so there’s plenty to celebrate and reward! 


Entertainer of the Year – The Award is for the act displaying the greatest competence in all aspects of the entertainment field.

Nominees: Eric Chuch, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban

My Prediction: Carrie Underwood

A longstanding ambassador for country music, Carrie embodies this award. Her “Cry Pretty 360 Tour” brought an all-female lineup to cities across the nation with show-stopping performances night after night. With “Southbound” and “Drinking Alone,” she added to her already impressive resume of thirty-two gold and platinum-selling singles. Her visibility as last year’s CMA Awards host, a gig with Sunday Night Football, and more set her as one of country music’s most recognizable figures. This would mark her first win in this category, and undoubtedly, she deserves it. 

Male Vocalist

Nominees: Eric Church, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban

My Prediction: Luke Combs

Luke is the reigning Male Vocalist of the Year, and he’s repeatedly surpassed many of his own feats. He’s the one to beat. 

Female Vocalist

Nominees: Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood

My Prediction: Maren Morris

While last year’s winner, Kacey Musgraves, ended a phenomenal tour by breaking the attendance record at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, my bets are on Maren Morris. “The Bones” has reached crossover status, and her “Girl” album continues to offer soulful singles that are inescapable at radio.

Vocal Group

Nominees: Lady A, Little Big Town, Midland, Old Dominion, Rascal Flatts

My Prediction: Old Dominion

Old Dominion continues to outpace itscompetition at radio and in sales. They’ll score their third win in this category on awards night.

Vocal Duo

Nominees: Brooks & Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Maddie & Tae

My Prediction: Dan + Shay

Maddie & Tae emerge as a dark horse with the much-deserved success of “Die of a Broken Heart,” cresting the Billboard Airplay Charts earlier this year. We saw it back in 2016 when Brothers Osborne won in favor of the more commercially orientated FGL. However, Dan + Shay seems to have a lock with mega streaming and sales figures. Could 2020 see a surprise winner in a usually predictable category? 

New Artist of the Year

Nominees: Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Carly Pearce, Morgan Wallen

My Prediction: Morgan Wallen

Probably the toughest category this year to decide on. Both Carly and Morgan are repeat nominees, with the latter racking up impressive airplay spins and album sales. Jimmie Allen is also showing promising factors – his first two singles reached the top spot at country radio. And Ingrid and Gabby saw the rare accomplishment of having their debut singles land at #1. If the votes split between Carly and Morgan, I see Gabby as a strong contender. 

Album of the Year

Nominees: Heartache Medication – Jon Pardi, Never Will – Ashley McBryde, Old Dominion – Old Dominion, What You See Is What You Get – Luke Combs, Wildcard – Miranda Lambert

My Prediction: Heartache Medication – Jon Pardi

Voters usually get this category right, with votes often going to some heavy country sounds, as opposed to deciding based on sales. Jon Pardi represents that with his third full-length release. 

Single of the Year

Nominees: 10,000 Hours – Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber), Beer Never Broke My Heart – Luke Combs, Bluebird – Miranda Lambert, The Bones – Maren Morris, I Hope – Gabby Barrett

My Predication: The Bones – Maren Morris

Here’s another category that has been slightly unpredictable within the last decade. Does Gabby Barrett have an advantage now that “I Hope” just hit #1 on the Billboard US Adult Contemporary charts months after already hitting the top on the Country Airplay chart? Maren Morris did the same thing earlier this year with “The Bones,” but Gabby may have a better chance since her single is still active at radio and fresher in the voters’ minds.  

Miranda Lambert scored her first number one in eight years with “Bluebird,” but I’m predicting “The Bones” triumphs. 

Song of the Year – Awarded to Songwriters 


Bluebird – Luke Dick, Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby

The Bones – Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz

Even Though I’m LeavingLuke Combs, Wyatt B. Durrette III, Ray Fulcher

I Hope You’re Happy NowLuke Combs, Randy Montana, Carly Pearce, Jonathan Singleton

More Hearts Than Mine Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis, Derrick Southerland

My Prediction: Bluebird – Luke Dick, Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby

For the first time since 2014, all performers of the Song of the Year nominees had a hand in co-writing the nominated track. Surprisingly, Luke Combs took this honor last year for “Beautiful Crazy” despite some heavier material being nominated alongside it. He’s a double nominee in this category, and the last time a songwriter had two nominations in the same category and won was in 2002 with Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning) and “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” – the former winning the award. 

Miranda Lambert took this honor in 2012, and I expect her to win this year with “Bluebird.” It’ll give Natalie Hemby a much-deserved victory after notching five nominations without a win in this category since 2010.

Musical Event of the Year


10,000 Hours – Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber)

Be A Light – Thomas Rhett featuring Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban

The Bones – Maren Morris with Hozier

Fooled Around and Fell in Love – Miranda Lambert featuring Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, & Caylee Hammack

I Hope You’re Happy Now – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice

My Prediction: I Hope You’re Happy Now – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice

“I Hope You’re Happy Now” was a big song at radio, solidifying Carly Pearce’s stance as a leading female in country music. Having Luke Combs as a songwriter on the song doesn’t hurt its chances either. 

Music Video of the Year


10,000 Hours – Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber)

Bluebird – Miranda Lambert

Homemade – Jake Owen

I Hope You’re Happy Now – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice

Second One To Know – Chris Stapleton

My Prediction: Bluebird – Miranda Lambert

Trey Fanjoy is the director of Miranda’s stunning “Bluebird.” As a director, she’s received 18 nominations for Music Video of the Year, more than any other person. Her winning clips include “The House That Built Me” and “Love Story.”

Catch the 54th Annual CMA Awards live on Wednesday, November 11, on ABC!

About the Author

Amanda Tempel
Amanda Tempel
A love for country music and all things Nashville is an understatement when it comes to Amanda Tempel. Her creative storytelling takes you on a journey keeping readers connected by sharing all the latest and greatest hits, up-and-coming acts, and behind-the-scenes magic of Music City that will keep you coming back for more.