Through the CMA Award's history there have been many acceptance speeches that have left an impressive mark on viewers. Some funny, some sad, but always memorable.
Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable CMA Award speeches.
Alan Jackson, Entertainer of the Year, 2003
Alan Jackson’s words during his speech should echo through every potential country acts head. In his delivery, Alan spoke about how country music should be about the songs, not the interviews and red carpets and the fame. To make the moment even more bittersweet, George Jones presented the award to Alan, which ended up being his final CMA Award appearance.
Willie Nelson, Country Music Hall of Fame Induction, 1993
When Willie Nelson gave his speech during the 27th annual ceremony, he chose to shy away from the attention. Instead of talking about his career, he took the time to talk about his musician friends who he thought should be inducted into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame. Willie, along with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, also sang an impromptu version of “Happy Birthday” to Gene Autry.
Reba McEntire, Entertainer of the Year, 1985
Reba was only the fourth female to win Entertainer of the Year when she claimed the victory in 1985. Tearfully Reba stated, “There are a lot of things in the music business that I was told when I first got into it, a lot of can'ts. One of those can'ts was women can’t do this or women can’t do that. Y’all just proved them wrong. Another can’t was you can’t go into New England; they don’t like country music up there. Well, that’s wrong, too. We went up there. People up there love country music like in all parts of the country we’ve been in. There are more and more people open to country music than there ever have been before."
Cindy Walker, Country Music Hall of Fame Induction, 1997
Cindy Walker became the ninth female to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and on her induction night she gave a speech that landed her one of the biggest ovations of the evening.
Here’s the poem she tearfully shared:
In the 1980’s my mother bought me a dress for a BMI affair
And she said, ‘When they put you in the Hall of Fame, that’s the dress I want you to wear’
I said, ‘Oh mama, the Hall of Fame. Why, that will never be’
And the years went by, but my mother’s words remained in my memory
And I know tonight she’d be happy, though she’s gone now to her rest
But I think of all that she did for me, and tonight I’m wearing that dress!
Vince Gill, Song of the Year, 1996
When Dolly Parton and Randy Travis announced Vince Gill as the Song of the Year winner for “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” Vince literally couldn’t speak. The song, a tribute to his late brother, has since become his signature hit. Vince, visibly shaken, took the trophy and quietly said, “Thank you, just thank you.”
Waylon Jennings, Male Vocalist, 1975
Waylon Jennings’ speech was short and memorable when he stepped up to the podium to claim his Male Vocalist of the Year trophy. The “Ladies Love Outlaws” singer stated, “They told me to be nice, I don’t know what they meant,” and walked off stage. Host Glen Campbell exclaimed, “It’s about damn time, Waylon!”
Garth Brooks, Entertainer of the Year, 1991
Garth Brooks took home his first Entertainer of the Year trophy and paid homage to his heroes, who were sitting in the audience. “I love my Georges — George Strait and George Jones — and I want to thank you guys for being so good to me." When he realized that there was another George in the audience, this one the President of the United States, Garth apologized, “No offense, Mr. President. I didn’t think about that. Sorry.”
George Jones, Vocal Event of the Year, 1993
Why was George Jones a no-show at the 1993 CMA Awards when his name was called for winning Vocal Event of the Year? Well, he was in the restroom. His wife Nancy walked onstage and said, “I swear he’s here,” and nervously tried to kill time while waiting for Jones. However, George Jones never appeared and Clint Black encouraged Nancy to speak on behalf of her husband.
Shania Twain, Entertainer of the Year, 1999
In 1999 when Reba McEntire opened the envelope to announce the winner of the Entertainer of the Year, she immediately became overcome with emotion. It was Reba who was the last female to every win the award, which happened in the eighties. The announcement of Shania Twain winning meant that she was only the fifth female to ever earn the trophy. In her speech Shania said, “I’m embarrassed that I’m crying. I’m honored mostly because I’m here with so many talented people.
Blake Shelton, Entertainer of the Year, 2012
Blake Shelton said it best when he accepted the industry’s highest honor last year, “I love country music more than anybody in this freakin’ room.”