"This is the best moment of my life," TJ Osborne said as he entered the Bridgestone Arena media center last week, shortly after he and his sibling John's country duo, Brothers Osborne, won their first CMA award for Vocal Duo of the Year. He then fixed his double bolo tie: "I need to look good as fuck right now."
Addressing reporters, many of whom they knew by name, he and John were loose, grateful and maybe a drink or two past sober. "I drank way too much because I didn't think we would even come close," TJ said. "I'm almost convinced it was an elaborate hoax. We were gonna come up and they were gonna be like, 'Just kidding, you didn't win.'"
"We sat right behind Florida Georgia Line," said John, the group's lead guitarist. "I thought, 'They'll get up and we'll be on television.'"
"That’s what we were looking forward to," continued TJ. "It took all we had not to just fall down in the aisle and roll out in tears … It was like Zoolander. We were like, 'Did they say our name? Are we about to walk onstage and they did not say our name?'"
The Brothers' win was one of the biggest surprises of the show: Florida Georgia Line had won the trophy three years in a row and scored both a chart-topping single and a chart-topping album in the last 12 months. Neither John nor TJ had prepared remarks.
"Sometimes it sucks," said John. "This is really, really difficult, what we do, and sometimes we want to quit, and we show up and you people are smiling at us, like it's the best day ever. And that's the shit that keeps us moving. That is what makes this possible."
"When I was a kid I thought the best thing that would ever happen to me was just visiting, being able to come to the CMA awards. I thought it was a long shot," TJ said.
Along with thanking their staff, their publisher and their label, EMI, they also gave a shout-out to their former touring partner, Darius Rucker, "the baddest motherfucker there is."
"We came to this town so many years ago," said John. "We look like an overnight success, but we came here just poor blue-collar kids from Maryland and here we are winning a CMA. I wish we could be at home with all our boys back home."
They left the stage soon after being informed that the Dixie Chicks and Beyoncé had begun their performance. "Oh shit, the Dixie Chicks are on?" John asked. "We're done here."