Held and broadcast live last night from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, the 49th Country Music Awards held some surprises, and of course, some fabulous performances. The relatively unknown Chris Stapleton took homethree Country Music Awards, which was one of the biggest surprises: male vocalist of the year, new artist, and album of the year. Having only released one album, Traveller, that’s a pretty big accomplishment.

Although the Kentucky bluegrass musician is a relative unknown to most fans of country music, he isn’t unknown to many in the business, some who feel that Stapleton is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Stapleton has been working in the background penning music for others to sing. Artists such as country music’s more famous Luke Bryan, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, and others, plus Adele (who recently released a new song, with an album soon to come after being absent for several years). Reports are that by the end of the night, iTunes number one album was Stapleton’s.

Justin Timberlake takes to country with Stapleton in show stopping duo

The entertainment world is also abuzz with excitement over the Country Music Awards show duet with Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake. The seemingly unlikely (however, Timberlake is from Tennessee) duo performed “Tennessee Whiskey” from Stapleton’s album and then Timberlake’s song, “Drink You Away.” Some joked that Timberlake can take over country music as long as all his performances are as good as the one last night.

Stapleton was near tears as he accepted his third award. He spent the night thanking his family, talking about his dad who passed away two years ago, again thanking his wife and others. He stated backstage that it was all surreal and he hoped to handle it all with a degree of grace.

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley host Country Music Awards for eighth year

Sticking with what works, the awards were once again hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. The two did a takeoff of the classic “Your Cheatin’ Heart” titled “My Cheatin’ Site” in reference to the Ashley Madison website scandal, and commented on Bruce Jenner now being a “babe.” However, when it came to probably country music’s biggest scandal of the year, the divorce of Blake Sheldon and Miranda Lambert, they were virtually mute.

There were also some Star Wars jokes, one of which mentioned a character named Luke Stagefaller, apparently in reference to Luke Bryan – who fell off stage three times last year, and William Shatner appeared wearing a storm trooper costume.

Other big winners of the night

Luke Bryan may have had the last laugh as he picked up the Entertainer of the Year award for the second time in a row. Other winners included: Miranda Lambert – female vocalist; Little Big Town also picked up three awards -- best single and best song for 'Girl Crush', and best vocal group; Florida Georgia Line – vocal duo; Maddie & Tae – music video for 'Girl in a Country Song.'

In general it appeared that the Association decided to honor some of the less famous country talents for this year’s Country Music Awards and spread the limelight on those less noticed.

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