Lainey Wilson receives top honors at the Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year 2

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Who will win Entertainer of the Year for the first time, Morgan Wallen or Lainey Wilson? Who will win the title of best new artist? The 57th annual CMA Awards will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Legendary NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and country music icon Luke Bryan will serve as this year’s hosts. Lainey Wilson leads all nominees for the second year in a row with nine, followed by Jelly Roll with five and Luke Combs and HARDY with four.

After receiving several nominations, Chris Stapleton and Carrie Underwood are both vying for their first Entertainer of the year title. It will be interesting to see if Stapleton, Brothers Osborne, and Old Dominion can maintain their multi-year winning runs for male vocalist, vocal pair, and vocal group, respectively. A few shocks this year were Wilson’s quick ascension to Entertainer of the year after winning Best New Artist just a year earlier, and Tracy Chapman’s first nomination for a song that is 35 years old.The 2023 programme, which will broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET, will accept applications from July 1, 2022, until June 30, 2023. Singles, albums, music videos, and other eligible music items “must have been released or gained peak national notoriety within the qualifying period,” per CMA regulations, in order to be considered for the yearly ceremony. Through three voting rounds, more than 7,300 people of the country music business choose the nominations and winners.


Lainey Wilson receives top honors at the Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year
Lainey Wilson receives top honors at the Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year

Here are Billboard’s predictions for the winners in a few categories, provided by staff writers Jessica Nicholson and Melinda Newman, executive editors for the West Coast and Nashville. The two did not share notes on their choices so as not to influence one another. Newman: Wilson’s rise to the entertainer category feels a little bit too quick considering that it has just been a year since she received her first CMA Awards nominations and won.

Combs prevailed over the other four nominees who have been here previously, including the previous year. Stapleton and Underwood are nominated for the seventh and sixth times in this category, respectively, but neither has taken home the trophy. Despite their best efforts to tour in 2023, it appears that they will once more come up short. Combs, going for his third title, and Wallen, going for his first, are competing against each other this year. Both have become stadium attractions and had improbable success in their radio careers.

This may be the year for a tie if there ever was one. Nicholson: Despite the amazing year all of the candidates have had, it appears like Combs and Wallen are leading this contest. Both songs have competed in the top tier of the Billboard Hot 100 (Wallen’s “Last Night” peaked at No. 2 while Combs’s “Fast Car” spent 16 weeks at the top of the chart). Combs is the current champion and two-time winner in this category, while Wallen’s One Thing at a Time has spent 16 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 this year. This year, both have had extensive stadium tours that have included both domestic and international performances. Beginning with performances in Australia and New Zealand, Wallen’s 2023 tour also made stops in Canada,

Newman: It’s a little surprising that Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night,” which topped the Hot 100 for an astounding 16 weeks, didn’t win this time around, but most voters preferred heavier fare, choosing songs like Combs’ moving rendition of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” Jelly Roll’s self-righteous “Need a Favour,” and the murder ballad “wait in the truck.” With “Buy Dirt” last year and “Next Thing You Know” this year, Davis came in second.

sings a pleasant, classic country song called “Heart Like a Truck,” while Wilson’s song explores the same family-oriented topic. All of these songs were hits, peaking at the top two of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. However, this year, the meaty songs resonated the greatest, with “Wait in the Truck” striking the hardest due to the powerful voices of Wilson and HARDY.


Nicholson: There are a slew of hits in this year’s category, including two chart-topping Wilson songs (“Heart Like a Truck” and “wait in the truck” with HARDY). The rock-tinged appeal “Need a Favour” by Jelly Roll and the poignant “Next Thing You Know,” a calmer chart smash by Jordan Davis, are both available here. Chart hits include Combs’s version of the Tracy Chapman classic “Fast Car,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Country Airplay chart for five weeks. This year, it was impossible to avoid this crossover success, which favours Combs.

Tennessee Orange has replaced “Need a Favour” in this category of competing songs, which are the same songs that were nominated for single of the year. Though it seems improbable, it would be something if Chapman won for “Fast Car,” a song that is still as painful now as it was when it was first released 35 years ago. Except for “Fast Car,” every performer contributed to the song’s composition, and that emotional commitment is audible here.

Lainey Wilson receives top honors at the Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year
Lainey Wilson receives top honors at the Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year

Wilson’s frail side was shown in “Heart Like a Truck,” while Moroney was seduced by “Tennessee Orange.” “Next Thing You Know” seemed to indicate that Davis had discovered his calling, one that honours family and doesn’t hold back when exposing domestic abuse. The winning song doesn’t have to have a message, but “wait in the truck” feels like a noteworthy accomplishment because of its bravery in facing the dark.

Nicholson: “Fast Car,” “wait in the truck,” “Next Thing You Know,” and “Heart Like a Truck” are among the majority of the songs that were nominated in the single of the year category that are repeated here. This year, Wilson’s solo song “Heart” and her duet with HARDY had comparable chart paths. “Heart Like a Truck” has the potential to win this category after winning song of the year at the NSAI Nashville Songwriter Awards, which are decided by the industry.

Newman: All of the contenders here produced works that engaged viewers and enhanced their artistic abilities, from Ashley McBryde’s vibrant imagined community in Lindeville to Kelsea Ballerini’s very personal declaration about taking back her own life after her divorce. The follow-up to last year’s winner, Growin’ Up, is Luke Combs’ performance, which honors the singer/songwriter who is embracing middle age.

Bell Bottom Country, which Lainey Wilson released as her breakthrough song to rising star status, seemed like a mission statement as she gained confidence in both her message and execution. Wallen’s song One Thing at a Time defied expectations by topping the Billboard 200 for 16 weeks, the longest run since Adele’s 21 in 2011–12. All of them will endure as the pinnacles of their own artistic careers, but McBryde immersed us in a universe through inventiveness and originality that was distinctly absorbing.

Wilson’s hippie-country Bell Bottom Country project, Ballerini’s heartfelt Rolling Up the Welcome Mat album, Combs’s hit-filled Gettin’ Old album, and McBryde’s inventive, collaborative Lindeville project—which included John Osborne, Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack, Aaron Raitiere, Benjy Davis, and more—are just a few of the styles that are honored in this category.

Wallen’s One Thing at a Time has been unquestionably the group’s most successful release, peaking at number one on the Billboard 200 for 16 weeks. Nevertheless, voters have frequently given preference to artistic effect in this area over financial achievement, so McBryde and her Lindeville allies may prevail here.

Newman: All of the singers from the previous year are in the running, with the exception of Carrie Underwood, whose spot is taken by the well-deserving Kelsea Ballerini. It’s strange not to see Underwood’s name here considering that she has been nominated or won 16 times in the previous 17 years, but she will most certainly return. Since splitting from Sony Nashville, Lambert has taken a little hiatus, so the competition amongst the other ladies is more of a four-way contest. While everyone has had a successful year, Wilson feels unbeatable for the second straight year.

Nicholson: With seven previous victories, Lambert is the most successful candidate in the category. While all of the nominees had incredible years of touring and performing, Lambert and Pearce had somewhat quieter years in terms of recording. For the ballad “We Don’t Fight Anymore,” Pearce and Chris Stapleton joined up, while for “If You Were Mine,” Lambert and Leon Bridges teamed up. Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, Ballerini’s album following her divorce is among her most intimate and heartfelt releases to date. Wilson is the current winner in this category and has appeared everywhere this year because of her extensive touring schedule, three songs that are rising in the charts, appearances at award shows, and her campaign with Wrangler. Wilson appears to be the clear winner in this group.

Newman: Jelly Roll, who is this year’s finalist in lieu of Eric Church, has had a tremendous year; however, that could be said of all the competitors, including Wallen, who was nominated twice and took home the prize at the ACM Awards in May. During the last eight years, Stapleton or Combs has won the prize, with Stapleton setting a record with six wins. It’s definitely Wallen’s time, even with Stapleton’s voice of a once-in-a-generation caliber.

Nicholson: There are several contenders for this title, including Wallen, Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, Combs, and Stapleton. In their quest to become first-time champions, Wallen, Jelly Roll, and Johnson will face off against seasoned victors Stapleton (six times) and Combs (twice). While Wallen’s relentless touring and the chart success of “Last Night” and “One Thing at a Time” suggest that this may be Wallen’s year to win, Stapleton is still the category’s annual favorite, while Combs, Jelly Roll, and Johnson have all had strong years.

Newman: Bryan and Jelly Roll have risen to prominence so swiftly that it seems odd to even include them in this category since they are already legitimate headline arena performers. Bailey Zimmerman’s exclusion is particularly noticeable because he has been dominating the charts recently with three Country Airplay No. 1s. Whitters won the Best New Female prize at the ACM Awards, and McCollum, Moroney, and Whitters all appear to be headed for lengthy, fruitful careers. According to the stats, it’s difficult to pick against Bryan or Jelly Roll, but if voters believe—as I do—that they are both past the prime candidate for this honor, Moroney may emerge as the unexpected vict

Nicholson: Of this group of rookies, Bryan is by far the largest success story. He is consistently placing songs and albums in the top tier of the Billboard charts across all genres and selling out stadiums around the country. However, some CMA voters could have been discouraged by Bryan’s remarks made after the CMA Awards the previous year.

The hitmaker McCollum of “Handle on You,” singer Whitters of “Everything She Ain’t,” and crooner Moroney of “Tennessee Orange” have all made progress in the past year, but one of the biggest breakthrough acts of the year has been Jelly Roll, a recent Billboard cover star who has scored two No. 1 Country Airplay hits this year (including the four-week Country Airplay chart-topper “Need a Favour”) and is currently enjoying a top 10 hit on the chart with his Wilson collaboration “Save Me.”

Newman: Given that Brothers Osborne have won the trophy five out of the previous seven years and Dan + Shay have won the last two, Maddie and Tae are competing for the ninth time without a victory and are probably going to go empty-handed once more. Although Brooks & Dunn, who last won in 2006, are undoubtedly legends, it seems strange that they are included in this category at all, given that their main function is as an infrequent touring act. Although the War and Treaty are a valuable addition, it’s unlikely that they will be able to halt the momentum that the outstanding Brothers Osborne are still enjoying.

Nicholson: This year’s competitors include two-time winners Dan + Shay, Maddie & Tae, and newcomers to the category, husband-and-wife team The War And Treaty. Five-time category winners and current champions Brothers Osborne also compete against 14-time winners Brooks & Dunn. New studio albums by Dan + Shay, Brothers Osborne, and The War and Treaty were released this year.

Before the release of their 2023 album Bigger Houses, Dan and Shay made headlines in the media by stating they were on the verge of breaking up. Meanwhile, Brothers Osborne achieved a top 25 Country Airplay hit with “Nobody’s Nobody,” launched their self-titled album, and performed a run of headlining performances.

and had “Save Me The Trouble,” a top 20 Country Airplay song. With their Zach Bryan duet “Hey Driver,” brothers Osborne’s labelmates The War And Treaty also achieved a significant commercial hit this year (peaking at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 for all genres). In addition to a number of headlining tour dates abroad, they have been opening dates on Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show and have been seen a lot at award shows this year. These several well-known performances might provide W&T with the advantage.

Lainey Wilson receives top honors at the Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year
Lainey Wilson receives top honors at the Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year

Newman: The same performers have been nominated in this category for the last five years, with the exception of 2020, when a disbanding Rascal Flatts replaced the Zac Brown Band. All of them are deserving candidates, but like the vocal duo category, the category can use some fresh blood or voters might want to consider other artists who are making waves, like Parmalee, whose song “Take My Name” won Billboard’s 2022 Country Airplay Song of the Year. Anticipate Old Dominion to win this category for the sixth time in a row, matching Little Big Town’s record of six victories, as they continue to expand both musically and commercially.

Nicholson: Because of their album Memory Lane and the same-titled Top 10 Country Airplay smash, Old Dominion has perhaps received the most attention among this year’s contenders. “Out in the Middle,” a song by Zach Brown Band that reached the top 20 Country Airplay chart, appears to be extending Old Dominion’s five-year winning streak.

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