Even when Adele doesn’t show up, she can still attend an awards show.
There is no doubt that the 2021 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards have seen renewed buzz over the last two days of rumors circulating on social networks that the 15th-time Grammy winner was going to make a surprise appearance on Wednesday night to sing her current No. 1 hit “Easy on Me” with Chris Stapleton.
Of course, when you really think about it, what are the chances that Adele – known for her carefully calculated and closely watched moves – lets slip a surprise performance at the biggest night of country music just four days before her much-promoted “Adele” One Night Only “Specials on a competing network? Try thin at none.”
But even without Adele, it was still a big night for Stapleton, who not only won four awards – including Album and Single of the Year, for her LP “Starting Over” and title track – but has also performed twice at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
First the neo-traditionalist hollowed out the blues heart of his single “Cold”, then returned for a tribute to Aretha Franklin with “Respect” star Jennifer Hudson – a medley of “Night Life” by Willie Nelson and Jimmie Davis’ “You Are” My Sunshine “- which temporarily turned the CMAs into the Soul Train Awards. Unlike when BeyoncÃ© did “Daddy Lessons” with the Chicks in 2016, there was really nothing country about this performance – which was more like J-Hud, shamelessly campaigning for awards season – but her performance fueled by the gospel certainly put the Holy Spirit in those cowboy boots.
Hudson wasn’t the only black woman to shake up the predominantly white country establishment. Mickey Guyton – who, after becoming the first African-American woman to co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, finally released her debut album, “Remember Her Name,” in September – rocked an oversized afro for one. statement performance of “I love my hair.”
To make it even more memorable, the song – which featured two other black singers, Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards, accompanying Guyton – was presented by its muse, Faith Fennidy, a young African-American college student. who was expelled from school in Louisiana because her braided hair violated school policy.
Another major moment came when Jimmie Allen became just the second black artist to win the New Artist of the Year award – after Darius Rucker 12 years ago – beating Guyton, among others. Bringing back flashy fashion again, Allen later returned for a vibrant victory lap with a performance of âFreedom Was a Freewayâ.
Then there was another kind of country alarm clock displayed when Brothers Osborne singer TJ Osborne – which came out just nine months ago – kissed boyfriend Abi Ventura for the whole crowd and all the cameras to see after winning the vocal duo of the year.
When the duo sang “Younger Me” later in the series – with a touching TJ saying, “I always felt, sincerely, that it would never be possible because of my sexuality to be here” – it was an even greater triumph than award-winning artist of the year Luke Combs.