Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell were the big winners when the 60th annual Grammy Awards announced the country and Americana categories during the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony, while Stapleton took the night's top country prize during the televised portion of the evening.
Stapleton – who helped give Saturday Night Live its best ratings of the season on Saturday night when he performed with surprise guest Sturgill Simpson – won the Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance, for "Broken Halos" and "Either Way," respectively. Both songs appear on Stapleton's 2017 From A Room: Volume 1 LP, which won Best Country Album tonight.
"This is always an amazing honor just to be here and to get to be a part of this," he said while accepting for "Either Way," a stark acoustic ballad. "This song is just me and an acoustic guitar, that's all it is, so for that to win is a beautiful thing to me."
Returning to the stage for the Best Country Song win, he thanked the song's co-writer, Mike Henderson, his former bandmate in the bluegrass band the SteelDrivers, for helping craft "Broken Halos."
Earlier, Isbell triumphed in both the Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album categories, for "If We Were Vampires" and The Nashville Sound. Emerging from the back of the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Isbell ambled to the podium.
"I wasn't gonna run – I'm not running for the Internet," quipped Isbell, who recalled how his wife Amanda Shires challenged him to write the heartbreaking "If We Were Vampires." "On this particular day, I was sitting on the bed watching reality television and I was going into the studio in three days and my wife said … 'You should be writing a song right now,' and I wrote this particular song."
Afterward, Isbell welcomed his band the 400 Unit to the stage, including Shires and guitarist Sadler Vaden, along with his producer Dave Cobb to accept the Best Americana Album trophy for The Nashville Sound.
Other notable winners included Little Big Town for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Better Man," and Reba McEntire, who generated buzz last week with her gender-bending role as "the Colonel" in a series of KFC ads. The singer-actress won not in the country categories, but in the Best Roots Gospel Album race for her LP Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.
"I've been singing these songs that are on this album all my life," McEntire said in her acceptance speech. "Our job in the entertainment business is to heal hearts; that's what God put me on this earth for."
Both Isbell and McEntire sported white roses in support of the Time's Up movement.
The 60th annual Grammy Awards air at 7:30 p.m./ET on CBS, live from New York City.
Best Country Song
"Better Man," Taylor Swift, songwriter (Little Big Town)
"Broken Halos," Mike Henderson and Chris Stapleton, songwriters (Chris Stapleton) - WINNER
"Drinkin' Problem," Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Mark Wystrach, songwriters (
"Tin Man," Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
Best Country Solo Performance
"Body Like a Back Road," Sam Hunt
"Losing You," Alison Krauss
"Tin Man," Miranda Lambert
"I Could Use a Love Song,” Maren Morris
"Either Way," Chris Stapleton - WINNER
Best Country Album
Cosmic Hallelujah, Kenny Chesney
Heart Break, Lady Antebellum
The Breaker, Little Big Town
Life Changes, Thomas Rhett
From A Room: Volume 1, Chris Stapleton - WINNER
Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
"It Ain't My Fault," Brothers Osborne
"My Old Man," Zac Brown Band
"You Look Good," Lady Antebellum
"Better Man," Little Big Town - WINNER
Southern Blood, Gregg Allman
Shine On Rainy Day, Brent Cobb
Beast Epic, Iron & Wine
The Nashville Sound, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - WINNER
Brand New Day, The Mavericks
Best American Roots Performance
"Killer Diller Blues,"
"Let My Mother Live," Blind Boys of
"Steer Your Way," Leonard Cohen
"I Never Cared for You," Alison Krauss
Best American Roots Song (Award to songwriters)
"I Wish You Well," The Mavericks (Raul Malo and Alan Miller, songwriters)
"If We Were Vampires," Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit (Jason Isbell, songwriter) - WINNER
"It Ain't Over Yet," Rodney Crowell featuring Rosanne Cash and John Paul White (Rodney Crowell, songwriter)
"My Only True Friend," Gregg Allman (Gregg Allman and Scott Sharrard)
Fiddler's Dream, Michael Cleveland
Laws of Gravity, The Infamous Stringdusters - WINNER (TIE)
Original, Bobby Osborne
Universal Favorite, Noam Pikelny
All the Rage - In Concert Volume One [Live], Rhonda Vincent and the Rage - WINNER (TIE)
Best Folk Album
Mental Illness, Aimee Mann - WINNER
Semper Femina, Laura Marling
The Queen of Hearts, Offa Rex
You Don't Own Me Anymore, The Secret Sisters
The Laughing Apple, Yusuf/Cat Stevens