The biggest night in country music is back! The 51st annual CMA Awards return tonight with longtime hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley to celebrate the biggest acts and songs in the genre. Check out our predictions for the night’s winners below.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: Garth Brooks
Brooks took home the night’s top prize for a fifth time last year, and his ongoing record-shattering world tour will surely earn him the honor once more. Past winners Keith Urban and Luke Bryan are also nominated alongside Eric Church and Chris Stapleton.
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: Miranda Lambert
Fellow nominee Carrie Underwood ended Lambert’s six-year winning streak at last year’s show, but the “Tin Man” singer is bound to reclaim the throne, as she leads the show with five nominations and is riding the wave of success from her latest album The Weight of These Wings. Country legend Reba McEntire along with newcomers Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris can all hold their own, but this is Lambert’s award to lose.
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton has become a favorite at country award shows for his rugged and authentic voice that has slipped away from the genre in recent times. He is hoping to edge out Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church and Thomas Rhett for a three-peat sweep.
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: Jon Pardi
Jon Pardi took home the New Male Vocalist of the Year award at the ACM Awards earlier this year, and his nomination for Single of the Year (“Dirt on My Boots”) gives him an edge in this category. Pardi is up against Lauren Alaina, Brett Young, Luke Combs, and Old Dominion.
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: “Body Like a Back Road” – Sam Hunt
Sam Hunt’s country-pop crossover “Body Like a Back Road” was inescapable this year, earning triple Platinum certification for sales and becoming one of Hunt’s biggest singles to date. Considering all of this success, it should be a no-brainer for the Single of the Year CMA. However, never rule out perennial CMA favorite Miranda Lambert, who could snub Hunt thanks to her single “Tin Man.” Other nominated songs are “Better Man” (Little Big Town), “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (Keith Urban) and “Dirt on My Boots” (Jon Pardi).
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: Brothers Osborne
Florida Georgia Line is consistently the biggest duo in country music, however, they got surprised at last year’s CMA Awards when Brothers Osborne took the crown. FGL had another strong year bolstered by their Smooth tour, but it’s possible that Brothers Osborne could become consecutive winners. LOCASH, Dan + Shay and Maddie & Tae are also nominated.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: From a Room: Volume 1 – Chris Stapleton
As mentioned before, Chris Stapleton has quickly grown to be a heavy CMA favorite in nearly every category he’s nominated for. Album of the Year is no exception, and his LP From a Room: Volume 1 is our choice for the prize. Other nominated works are Little Big Town’s The Breaker, Lady Antebellum’s Heart Break, Miranda Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings, and surprise nominee Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s The Nashville Sound.
SONG OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: “Better Man” – Little Big Town
Four years after her last CMA nomination, Taylor Swift is back in the running, this time as a songwriter for penning Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” The nomination has caused quite a bit of buzz seeing as Swift made it big in country before transitioning to a full-blown pop superstar. Though Swift has never won this award, her current musical status could certainly give her an edge over the other nominated songwriters, including Miranda Lambert (“Tin Man”) and Sam Hunt (“Body Like a Back Road”).
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Predicted winner: Little Big Town
This category would be one of the tougher ones to call—if Little Big Town was not nominated. The four-piece vocal group has taken home this award for the past five years and are the favorites to do so again. Past winners Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts as well as Zac Brown Band and Old Dominion are also nominated.