10-time CMA hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley put their decade-anniversary celebration on hold for a couple minutes as Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, and Darius Rucker led both the audience and a stage full of country music superstars in a heartfelt rendition of Hootie & the Blowfish's 1994 debut single, "Hold My Hand," which was dedicated to the many lost in the last year, be it in natural disasters or at the hands of deranged gunmen.
The first award of the night was for Single of the Year -- the award goes to the artist -- and it went to:
"Blue Ain't Your Color"
Thomas Rhett then took the stage and sang his hit, "Unforgettable."
Next up was Song of the Year -- that award goes to the songwriter. It went to:
(recorded by Little Big Town)
The show was much more about bands than banter. Dierks Bentley was joined on stage by Rascal Flatts and Luckyman Eddie for a performance of "My Town."
Next up was one of the amazing collaborations ABC has been touting for weeks in their promos: Kelsea Ballerini performing her hit, "Legends," alongside country music icon Reba McEntire. That performance blended seamlessly into Luke Bryan's "Light it Up," which led into Miranda Lambert's standing ovation-worthy "To Learn Her."
One of the most anticipated awards of the evening was handed out next, New Artist of the Year. It went to:
The reigning Entertainer of the Year, Garth Brooks, took the stage next, performing "Ask Me How I Know." This performance made possible the absolute best audience shot of the night: Brooks' wife, Trisha Yearwood, dancing in the front row with Miranda Lambert.
The Brothers Osborne performed their hit, "It Ain't My Fault," and then mashed that up with Don Williams' 1982 No. 1 Country single, "Livin' on Tulsa Time."
Tyler Perry then took the stage with an incredibly timely and poignant anecdote about Charlie Pride before handing out the next CMA award for:
Album of the Year
"From a Room: Volume 1"
(And congrats to Chris for releasing his first two albums, "From a Room: Volume 1" and "Traveller," and winning the CMA Album of the Year award for both! Wow.)
The best performance of the night was by the reigning King & Queen of Country -- the gold standard of relationship goals -- Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. The couple looked into each other's eyes and brought tears to ours as they performed "The Rest of Our Lives."
It's no secret we live in a time when the lines between musical genres are incredibly blurred. And, that's not just Taylor Swift's fault. P!nk performed on the CMA broadcast this evening, singing her song, "Barbies."
This certainly isn't the first time P!nk has dipped her toes into the country pond. Her duet with Kenny Chesney, "Setting the World on Fire," went to No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart.
Multiple CMA nominee Old Dominion kept the stage alive next.
And, we all got a little bit teary -- and for not the first time -- as Little Big Town paid tribute to country legend Glen Campbell.
The award for Vocal Duo of the Year went to the Brothers Osborne.
Next, Chris Stapleton brought the crowd to its feet with his performance of "Broken Halos."
The "In Memoriam" reel of every awards show is always heart wrenching. It's even more so when accompanied by a song and a performance specifically designed to break our collective hearts.
After that incredibly moving moment, the awards presentations and performances really progressed.
Vocal Group of the Year went to Little Big Town.
Jon Pardi performed "Dirt on My Boots."
Keith Urban performed "Female."
Then, surprising exactly no one, Miranda Lambert won Female Vocalist of the Year. She deftly made her way to the stage to accept her 7th trophy in this category.
Next, Entertainer of the Year nominee Eric Church performed his recent radio resident, "Coming Around."
And, then, we entered the home stretch. Trisha Yearwood presented the award for Male Vocalist of the Year to:
As the evening began to wind down, classic country music superstar Alan Jackson sang one of his biggest hits, "Chasin' that Neon Rainbow."
Immediately following, the biggest award of the night was announced, Entertainer of the Year.
The nominees were:
Garth Brooks was the winner of the biggest, most anticipated award of the night.
Congrats to Garth, hosts Carrie & Brad, and all the winners.
Want more music stories from Circa? Click HERE.
Definitely don't miss these:
Stars came out to celebrate the Elton John AIDS Foundation's 25th anniversary
Here are the nominees for the 45th AMAs
The CMAs gave reporters a list of stuff not to talk about.
Diddy changed his name again. Now it's Brother Love.