With the 53rd annual CMA Awards days away, members of the country music community can’t help but wonder who will take home the night’s top honor of entertainer of the year.
Keith Urban is the reigning winner, and he has some fierce competition this year with fellow nominees Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton and Carrie Underwood. Sounds Like Nashville made a cheat sheet of each artist’s year in music to show that they are all deserving of the honor. The only question left to ask is, who do you think will win?
Brooks’ world domination showed no signs of stopping in 2019. He is a six-time CMA entertainer of the year, and he could win his seventh bullet for another record-breaking run of sold-out stadium engagements. His tour highlights so far included an 800-piece choir backing him at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Or., unforgettable guest appearances at charity concerts including April’s all-star tribute to Loretta Lynn and a seven-show dive bar run. The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour continues Nov. 16 at Knoxville, Tenn.’s Neyland Stadium, marking his first concert at the home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers in 16 years, and it’s one of only three concerts ever held there. His latest vinyl boxed set LEGACY compiles five hit albums, including 1990’s No Fences, 1992’s The Chase, 1993’s In Pieces, 1995’s Fresh Horses and Triple Live, plus CDs with bonus tracks for a total of seven vinyl albums and seven CDs. Brooks and Blake Shelton will perform their hit collaboration “Dive Bar” live on the CMAs.
It’s hard to beat the power of Church. May’s Double Down concert at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium attracted a record-breaking 56,521 fans, besting draws by Taylor Swift’s reputation tour, Kenny Chesney’s Trip Around the Sun Tour and One Direction’s Where We Are Tour. He heads to the CMA Awards with a performance as well as three nominations for Entertainer, Album of the Year for Desperate Man and Music Video of the Year for his eighth No. 1 “Some of It.” The Double Down Tour continues Nov. 15-16 in Washington, D.C.
People still talk about the 2015 CMA Awards when he swept the night and blew the room away with “Tennessee Whiskey” featuring Justin Timberlake like it happened yesterday. This year, he’ll debut “Love Me Anyway” with P!nk, and he is nominated for Entertainer, Male Vocalist and Single of the Year for “Millionaire.” This is his fourth consecutive nomination for Entertainer of the Year. His ambassadorship of the genre included the 2019 All-American Road Show and high profile guest appearances on Game of Thrones and Ed Sheeran’s No.6 Collaborations. He will headline “A Concert for Kentucky” at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky. on Apr. 25, 2020 supporting Stapleton’s newly created Outlaw State of Kind Hometown Fund. The concert will feature special guests Willie Nelson & Family, Sheryl Crow and Yola.
Underwood’s Cry Pretty Tour 360 was arguably one of the year’s most physically demanding tours. Her prowess as a singer is unmatched by any other in the category. The athleticism she delivers live every time proves she is among the most consistent performers of our age. This year the 360-stage was in the shape of an eye, which was a seismic interpretation of the Cry Pretty album cover. She was the only country artist to perform on the legendary Pyramid Stage at the 2019 Glastonbury music festival in England. In one of her final performances in her home state of Oklahoma, Underwood was joined onstage by her mother, Carole, who she described as her own personal “champion.” Having received her first entertainer of the year nomination in 2016, Underwood will host the CMA Awards for the 12th consecutive year and has three nominations, including Entertainer, Female Vocalist and Album of the Year for Cry Pretty. She is a returning headliner the 2020 Stagecoach Festival and HarperCollins/Dey Street Books will publish her first book, FIND YOUR PATH: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life, next year.
Urban is the reigning CMA entertainer of the year and a 12-time entertainer nominee overall. He also heads to the show with his 15th male vocalist of the year nomination. Riding high off of the success of his gold-selling Graffiti U, Urban enjoyed an eventful year in music that saw collaborations with Foy Vance and the release of “We Were,” his new recording with Church. Urban’s first European tour in more than a decade launches in Amsterdam on May 2, 2020.