When Rolling Stone Country hit the 49th annual CMA Awards’ red carpet to ask our favorite stars what they were most anticipating about country music’s biggest night, nine out of 10 of them answered with five words: Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake. And they were all on the edge of their seats for good reason.
Stapleton was the upset victor of the night, taking home trophies for all three categories in which he was nominated: New Artist, Male Vocalist and Album of the Year. If there was a “Performance of the Show” category, he would’ve won that, too. His soulful, ceiling-busting duet with Justin Timberlake had the in-house audience in shock and awe — and set social media ablaze.
Other first-time winners were Maddie and Tae, who won Music Video of the Year for their clever “Girl in a Country Song” clip. But while the industry buzz was that the 20-year-old singer-songwriters might trump Florida Georgia Line for Duo of the Year, the “Cruise” singers triumphed for the third year in a row. Repeat winners also included now-six-time Female Vocalist Miranda Lambert (a CMA record) and now-four-time Vocal Group of the Year, Little Big Town — who also won Single of the Year for “Girl Crush,” while the sultry ballad’s songwriters (Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey) won for Song of the Year. (See a complete list of 2015 CMA Awards winners here, and a full recap of the electrifying, three-hour broadcast here.)
In the video above, we talk to Garth Brooks, Jewel, Ashley Monroe, Maddie & Tae, Chris Young and more stars about country music’s biggest night.