Stars at their earliest CMA Awards

Stars at their earliest CMA Awards

In honor of the 55th Annual Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 10, 2021, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at some of Nashville’s biggest stars during their earliest appearances at the yearly award show. Keep reading to see how much artists like Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood have changed over the years, starting with T.Swift! The “Love Story” singer (who was a country music performer at the time) donned a dramatic look — a curve-hugging black gown with matching elbow-length gloves — during the 40th Annual CMA Awards at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville on Nov. 6, 2006 — just two weeks after her self-titled debut album dropped!

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So sweet! Keith Urban brought his mom, Marienne, as his date to the 34th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville on Oct. 4, 2000. (It wasn’t until the following year that he earned his first CMA Award nomination.)

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A 22-year-old Carrie Underwood looked red-hot during the 39th Annual CMA Awards at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 15, 2005, which also happens to be the very same day her debut studio album, “Some Hearts,” dropped. The following year, the “American Idol” alum earned her first two CMA Award nominations.

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Also 22 that year? Miranda Lambert, who looked pretty in pink during the 39th Annual CMA Awards at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 15, 2005! The first-time nominee (for best new artist) had just released her debut studio album, “Kerosene,” a few months earlier.

Kenny Rogers whispered to collaborator Dottie West as they accepted the award for vocal duo of the year during the 12th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Oct. 9, 1978 — the same year they released “Every Time Two Fools Collide,” an album of duets. That same year, the country superstar dropped two more albums: “Love or Something Like It” and “The Gambler.”

Shania Twain, who was up for four awards that year, flaunted her midriff in sparkly separates while performing her hit single “Any Man of Mine” during the opening of the 29th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Oct. 4, 1995. Earlier that year, she released her sophomore album, “The Woman in Me.”

Reba McEntire picked up her first-ever CMA Award (female vocalist of the year) during the 18th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Oct. 8, 1984. Her seventh studio album, “Just a Little Love,” debuted earlier that year.

Blake Shelton sported a big black cowboy hat over his long curly tresses during the 37th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Nov. 5, 2003. (He was up for the best new artist award that year!)

Dolly Parton stunned while performing during the 11th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Oct. 8, 1977. (She’d already taken home several CMA Awards by that point in her career!)

A 14-year-old LeAnn Rimes did an interview as her parents, Wilbur and Belinda, stood nearby before the 30th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Oct. 2, 1996 — less than three months after her debut album, “Blue,” dropped. (She won her first CMA Award the following year.)

Jake Owen and his luscious locks brought along his fraternal twin brother, Jarrod, to the 40th Annual CMA Awards at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville on Nov. 6, 2006 — just a few months after his debut album, “Startin’ With Me,” dropped. The country singer earned his first CMA Award nomination two years later.

Toby Keith teamed up with Sting for a duet of the English rocker’s song “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” — which the duo recorded for the country crooner’s 1997 album “Dream Walkin'” — during the CMA Awards in Nashville on Sept. 24, 1997.

A 21-year-old Hillary Scott looked adorable in a prom-worthy brown dress during the 41st Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Nov. 7, 2007. The following year, her band Lady Antebellum released their self-titled debut album and earned their first CMA Award nomination.

Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks laughed as bandmate Natalie Maines accepted the award for vocal group of the year on their behalf during the 32nd Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Sept. 23, 1998. They released their breakthrough album, “Wide Open Spaces,” earlier that year.

Brad Paisley donned a magnificent embroidered magenta jacket while accepting the Horizon Award during the 34th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Oct. 4, 2000. The year before, he released his debut album, “Who Needs Pictures.”

Loretta Lynn already had nearly 20 albums under her belt when she got photographed at the Sixth Annual CMA Awards at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in 1972.

A baby-faced Dierks Bentley kept things casual in a black floral-embroidered button-down during the 37th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Nov. 5, 2003 — just a few months after his debut self-titled album dropped. He earned his first CMA Award nomination (best new artist) the following year.

George Strait beamed while accepting the award for album of the year for “Carrying Your Love with Me” during the 31st Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Sept. 24, 1997. (At the time, he already had a truckload of CMA Award wins under his belt buckle.)

Jason Aldean and then-wife Jessica Ussery were all smiles during the 39th Annual CMA Awards at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 15, 2005 — just a few months after his self-titled debut album dropped. (They separated in 2013 after the country star got caught cheating with “American Idol” alum Brittany Kerr, whom he married in 2015.) Jason didn’t earn his first CMA Award nomination (best new artist) until 2007.

Eric Church went without his signature shades (a rarity!) to the 40th Annual CMA Awards at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville on Nov. 6, 2006 — just a few months after his debut album, “Sinners Like Me,” dropped. It would be another five years before he earned his first CMA Award nomination for best new artist.

Alan Jackson, who won the award for entertainer of the year that night, performed in a fringe-trimmed jacket and cowboy hat during the 29th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Oct. 4, 1995.

Newlyweds Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins — who’d tied the knot just weeks earlier — looked happy as clams during the 46th Annual CMA Awards at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 1, 2012. He released his self-titled debut album the following year and earned his first CMA Award nomination (best new artist) in 2014.

Luke Bryan still had a baby face when he attended the 40th Annual CMA Awards at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville on Nov. 6, 2006. His debut studio album, “I’ll Stay Me,” dropped the following year, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he earned his first CMA Award nomination for best new artist.

Country queens! The first time Linda Davis, Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride were photographed at the CMA Awards was when they joined Reba McEntire for a performance of “On My Own” during the 29th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Oct. 4, 1995.

Can you believe it’s been six years?! Kacey Musgraves looked beautiful in a sheer beige dress during the 47th Annual CMA Awards at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 6, 2013 — just a few months after she dropped her debut album, “Same Trailer Different Park.” She was up for six awards that night but ultimately took home just one: new artist of the year.

Gretchen Wilson modeled her signature laid-back style in a black tank and black pants during the 38th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Nov. 9, 2004. (She was up for her first four CMA Awards that year!)

Kenny Chesney rocked a beige suit with a big black cowboy hat during the 34th Annual CMA Awards at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville on Oct. 4, 2000. (The previous year, he’d been nominated for the best new artist award.)

Siblings Reid Perry, Kimberly Perry and Neil Perry of The Band Perry coordinated in black ensembles during the 44th Annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Nov. 10, 2010. (The trio was up for their first CMA Award that year!)

Tim McGraw donned a big black cowboy hat to accept the award for album of the year for “Everywhere” during the 32nd Annual CMA Awards in Nashville on Sept. 23, 1998. (At the time, he already had a boatload of CMA Award nominations under his belt.)

It’s only been four years! Newcomer Kelsea Ballerini, who was up for two awards that year, had a major princess moment in a pretty tulle ball gown during the 49th Annual CMA Awards at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 4, 2015 — just a few months after her debut album, “The First Time,” dropped.
































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