Expectations are high for the 2017 CMA Awards. Fans around the nation will watch on Wednesday evening as the country music world celebrates this year's biggest contributions to the format, and to see how they respond to October's mass shooting in Las Vegas shooting. Here's what to expect, how to watch, and who might go home with the most CMA hardware.
When and where?
The Country Music Association Awards will be held at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 8, 2017. Festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. As mentioned above, the show will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 8/7 central.
Lauren Alaina, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Dan + Shay, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett, Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are scheduled to perform.
The CMA Awards usually features a few surprising performances. Expect an all-star medley during the opening performance, and some kind of a tribute to victims of the Route 91 Harvest shooting.
This year's nominees are an eclectic mix of artists across the country spectrum. The nominees for the top honors include newcomers like Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini, establish superstars like Keith Urban and Luke Bryan, and rising Americana and country icons like Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton.
Miranda Lambert is nominated in four separate categories. Recent Walk of Fame inductees Little Big Town is set for success with four nominations, including Album of the Year for The Breaker, where they'll be going up against artists like Lambert and Lady Antebellum.
Newcomer Lauren Alaina is up for Best New Artist while Brothers Osborne have been nominated for Best Vocal Duo this year. As for the big, shiny Entertainer of the Year award? The nominees include Urban, Stapleton, Eric Church, Luke Bryan and Garth Brooks.
As for Entertainer of the Year nominees include the usual suspects: Bryan and Stapleton are the likely winners.
Single of the Year may go to Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road" just because it broke chart history this year. Lambert's "Tin Man" and Urban's "Blue Ain't Your Color" were the best songs in the category, so either one could snag Song of the Year.
Album of the Year includes some interesting picks, most notably Miranda Lambert's two-disc The Weight of These Wings, Americana star Jason Isbell's Nashville Sound, and Chris Stapelton's From a Room, Vol. 1. Isbell is the biggest outsider, so he may be an unlikely pick. Our money is on Lambert's Weight of These Wings.
While Lauren Alaina perhaps didn't get the overall recognition she deserves, she stands a good chance to be the New Artist of the Year. Her biggest competition will probably be coming from country blues artist Luke Combs. He did, after all, recently jump to the top of the music streaming heap which prompted his mainstream success.
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are back as hosts for 2017. This time around will mark their tenth consecutive year hosting the awards ceremony. A wide range of presenters from within country music and outside are set to present awards. View the full list of presenters here.
No matter who wins or who's hitting that big-time Bridgestone stage to perform, we're sure of one thing. Just like every year, the CMA Awards show will bring country music fans together from its epicenter in Nashville to all around the world. Stay tuned to Wide Open Country for additional coverage we approach the big day.