Rolling Stone - Academy Award-winning actor and singer Jennifer Hudson gave a show-stopping performance at the 2021 CMA Awards, teaming up with multiple winner Chris Stapleton for a soulful medley of “Night Life” and “You Are My Sunshine.”
Hudson, who plays Aretha Franklin in the new biopic Respect, gave her first performance at the CMA Awards with Franklin’s arrangement of Willie Nelson’s “Night Life,” starting the song off low and slow before ramping it up with brassy horn hits and explosive vocal runs. Stapleton joined in behind Hudson on guitar.
After a brief interlude, the second half of the performance featured Stapleton’s smoldering take on “You Are My Sunshine,” which he and wife Morgane recorded for Dave Cobb’s multi-artist Southern Family project. Hudson chimed in with some soaring ad libs of her own before the song shifted from a blues shuffle to a full gallop.
It's not even a matter of opinion at this point. Chris Stapleton is a certified legend in the middle of his career, and that's a fact. He took six awards from the CMAs last night... in many categories, he's previously won.
2x Champ for Song of the Year - "Starting Over"
2x Champ for Single of the Year - "Starting Over"
3x Champ for Album of the Year - Starting Over
5x Champ for Male Vocalist of the Year - also 4-peated from 2015-2018
And the greatest part in this loud world... Stapleton is soft-spoken and humble. Constantly puts the attention on others when winning awards... those who helped him along the way, those who helped him write the songs, those he's "competing" with. Using quotes because it seems like most of the artists aren't competing with each other... a rising tide lifts all boats.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqzJs5q6-dA&list=PLDe0CguuqcMBmSK3c2QBEnvnuGVogr3WZ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3J1X-_uLN4&list=PLDe0CguuqcMBmSK3c2QBEnvnuGVogr3WZ&index=5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqULQRnOE84&list=PLDe0CguuqcMBmSK3c2QBEnvnuGVogr3WZ&index=7 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwvXm9pKTNo&list=PLDe0CguuqcMBmSK3c2QBEnvnuGVogr3WZ&index=9
And the guy can perform and pull the deepest emotions out of you. Chills.
Luke Bryan was this year’s host and he was a natural. Guy was born to entertain and is a natural comedian. He was like a modern day Dean Martin, in cowboy boots, up there on stage delivering self-deprecating jokes about himself, and his friends in the industry.
His opening monologue and rapport with everybody throughout the night was phenomenal.
The most nominated artist was Eric Church, but when you're living in the Tiger Woods/Michael Jordan era, it's hard to bring home the hardware.
The themes and stories coming out of the night were inspiring.
Jimmie Allen won New Artist of the Year, and gave a phenomenal, heartfelt speech. From living in his car, to being discovered playing in a grocery store. His story is incredibly inspirational. He's a class act.
Mickey Guyton performed with Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards - "Love My Hair". The song is inspired by Faith Fennidy who was sent home from school because of her hair, her natural hair. She introduced the song flawlessly. Well done Faith. Well done Mickey.
Jennifer Hudson, as mentioned above, teamed up with Stapleton to sing some Aretha. Someone get the full video up stat because the performance blew the roof off the place.
TJ Osborne of Brothers Osborn, who took home Vocal Duo of the Year for a 4th time, came out as gay earlier this year. He spoke about thinking it would keep him from taking the big stage on the country music scene. And then performed "Younger Me". (I absolutely LOVE this song.)
Carly Pearce took home Female Vocalist of the Year. Well earned… her voice is awesome and unique. And she's full of pure, raw emotion. And she's a dime.
She had a challenging year going through a divorce, which she's been very open about, and getting therapy to help her mental health. As a wise woman says…
Some familiar faces showed up.
The Greatest Show On Turf - Kurt Warner
If there is competition for an award, Entertainer of the Year would be it. Which is a good thing because live country concerts have really upped their game over the last couple of decades.
The finalists was a murders row
Luke Combs took it down. Very well earned. It's been awesome to watch his ascent to the top. Guy unassumingly has pipes.
For a full play-by-play of the awards, check out the Barstool Backstage twitter. If you're not on it, get on it.
We live-tweeted the entire show on the Barstool Backstage twitter account. If you're not following us, get on it. The next big music awards show is the American Music Awards on November 21st and we will be live-tweeting those as well.
Thanks to Augie for the help.
PS… may or may not have taken the country music photo of the year for 2021