2008 CMA Awards winners were announced live from the Sommet Center in Nashville on November 12, 2008. Kenny Chesney was crowned with his fourth Entertainer of The Year Award, and Brad Paisley and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles each took home two trophies. George Strait become the most awarded artist in CMA Awards history (22), winning Single of they Year for “I Saw God Today” and Album of the Year for Troubadour.
“I love this album and I really appreciate everyone who bought it,” the humble Strait said after accepting his second Award of the night. “Everyone says they’ve got the greatest fans. Well, I really got the greatest fans.”
2008 CMA Awards Winners:
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Produced by Tony Brown and George Strait
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
“I Saw God Today”
Produced by Tony Brown and George Strait
SONG OF THE YEAR
Jennifer Nettles Publishing
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
“Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)”
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
“Waitin’ On a Woman”
Brad Paisley featuring Andy Griffith
Directed by Jim Shea and Peter Tilden
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Mac McAnally – Guitar
Kenny Chesney’s fourth Entertainer of the Year Award ties Garth Brooks’ record for the most wins in the category.
“As much as tonight is about Awards I really believe that being able to stand up here is more about great songs; it’s more about the fans,” Chesney said. “This is my fourth time standing up here and I am really humbled.”
Earlier in the broadcast, Chesney brought out reggae group The Wailers to perform an island-flavored medley that combined Chesney’s “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” and Bob Marley’s classic “Three Little Birds.”
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood co-hosted the gala event live on the ABC Television Network from the Sommet Center in Downtown Nashville. Paisley remarked that he and Underwood “both grew up watching the CMA’s each and every year,” with Underwood joking, “We’re new at this job so they can kick us out at any minute.”
But it turns out that “Country Music’s Biggest Night” was very good to its hosts.
Paisley picked up his second Male Vocalist and fourth Music Video of the Year Award for “Waitin’ on a Woman,” featuring legendary actor Andy Griffith and directed by Jim Shea
and Peter Tilden. “I won’t take long,” Paisley said with his signature sense of humor. “I’ve talked enough.”
Backstage, Paisley expressed excitement about Griffith’s first CMA Awards win. “I can’t wait to talk to him about it. I’m sure he is thrilled.”
Underwood nabbed her third consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year Award. Upon accepting her Award, Underwood thanked those in the music industry who voted for her. “I got through here in an unconventional way and you guys didn’t have to accept me,” she said.
One of the most touching moments of the night was when Leslie Ponder, whose husband was killed in combat in Afghanistan, introduced Underwood’s performance of “Just a Dream.”
First-time Entertainer nominees Sugarland picked up their second consecutive Vocal Duo of the Year Award and lead singer Jennifer Nettles snagged her first Song of the Year Award for writing the duo’s heart-wrenching single “Stay.”
“You never know when you come up here if you are ever going to get to come up here again,” Nettles said about their Vocal Duo win. “So we are very thankful.”
Nettles and partner Kristian Bush later brought the house down with the powerful performance of “Love” from their third consecutive Platinum album Love on the Inside.
With their win for Vocal Group of the Year, Rascal Flatts tied The Statler Brothers for most consecutive wins in the category with six. The Statlers still hold the record for most total wins for Vocal Group with nine. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney lavished praise repeatedly on the people that got them where they are today. “We thank all of our fans,” LeVox said. “Again all of our fans, again all of our fans, again all of our fans.”
Lady Antebellum picked up the coveted New Artist of the Year Award (formerly Horizon Award) after performing their breakout hit “Love Don’t Live Here.”
“It’s very humbling,” said group member Hillary Scott backstage with partners Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley. “We do not take this lightly at all. We have so much to prove.”
The other performers nominated for New Artist of the Year included Kellie Pickler with the sassy “Best Days of Your Life,” James Otto singing “Just Got Started Loving You,” Jason Aldean with the rocking “She’s Country,” and Rodney Atkins offering a little slice of his backyard in “It’s America.”
In the pre-telecast ceremony, CMA Awards were given to two first-time winners – Mac McAnally for Musician of the Year and Robert Plant, who won the Musical Event of the Year Award with Alison Krauss for “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On).”
Paisley and fellow Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year nominee Keith Urban opened the show with their new vocal/guitar duet “Start a Band” from Paisley’s Play album and then broke up later in the broadcast to each go solo. Urban performed “Sweet Thing” while Paisley offered CMA Award-winning song “Waitin’ On a Woman.” Fellow Male Vocalist nominee Alan Jackson brought along a few dozen friends to line dance to his party anthem “Good Time.”
The Female Vocalist of the Year nominees showed why women in Country Music are a force to be reckoned with. Taylor Swift acted out a fairytale complete with Prince Charming in her performance of “Love Story,” Martina McBride belted “Ride,” and Miranda Lambert offered the poignant “More Like Her.”
Vocal Duo of the Year nominees Brooks & Dunn got a little help from Musical Event of the Year nominee Reba McEntire to help perform “Cowgirls Don’t Cry.”
Vocal Group of the Year nominees the Eagles made a return trip to the CMA Awards, performing “Busy Being Fabulous” from their wildly successful Country effort Long Road Out of Eden. Two-time nominee Trace Adkins performed his hit “You’re Gonna Miss This.”
Country Music was infused with a little rock – Kid Rock. The Detroit native performed his mega hit “All Summer Long.” Former Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker showed his Country side performing No. 1 hit “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.”
A little bit of Hollywood came to Nashville in the form of Awards presenters, including the stars of the upcoming film epic “Australia” Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, “Hannah Montana” stars Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus, and Reese
Witherspoon, who appears in the forthcoming holiday comedy “Four Christmases.”
Shania Twain made a special appearance, her first on the CMA Awards since 2005, to present the Entertainer of the Year Award and received a standing ovation from the audience.
Other presenters on “Country Music’s Biggest Night” included Vince Gill, Julianne Hough, Heidi Newfield, Jake Owen, John Rich, Josh Turner, Jimmy Wayne, and Lee Ann Womack.