Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini & More Share Their Favorite CMA Awards Show Memories With Nash Country Daily

Nashville’s Music City Center was hopping the last two days as more than 50 country stars made the rounds at Radio Row to take part in interviews. Since the 50th annual CMA Awards on Nov. 2 was a fresh topic on everyone’s mind, Nash Country Daily asked some of our favorite stars to tell us about their most memorable CMA Awards Show moment—either as a kid watching the show or as an artist taking part in it.

Check out what they had to say.

cma-memories-garth-brooks-2016-11-01-portraitGarth Brooks
Randy Travis is singing with George Jones, and at the end of the song Randy has two lines left and he decides to throw a lick in to Jones and Jones looks at him, I’ll never forget his face, I was sitting right there. Jones doesn’t break and he just throws another lick that buries Travis. Travis starts to laugh so hard because he’s so embarrassed, he’s red because it’s vocal suicide to play around with Jones.”

cma-memories-keith-urban-2016-11-01-portraitKeith Urban
“The first moment that springs to mind—we would get the CMAs in Australia when I was growing up, so the first time I got exposed to it, I was 7 years old or something, and Roy Clark was shredding this guitar solo and I’d never seen anything like it—let alone on a country award show. That one stands out for sure.”

cma-memories-luke-bryan-2016-11-01-portraitLuke Bryan
“I have so many memories. Obviously when I won my first one, my first Entertainer of the Year, it was a life-changing moment for me and I’ll never forget it. It was something I never could have imagined I would’ve ever gotten myself in that situation and here I am winning the award. As far as watching, I think about the early ’90s being a kid watching Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks and Brooks & Dunn kick-starting their careers and me being head over heels for all the music that they were putting out.”

cma-memories-kelsea-ballerini-2016-11-01-portraitKelsea Ballerini
“Me and my mom every year would make a girl date of it. We would go out grocery shopping. We’d get a bunch of snacks and fruits and cheeses and we’d spread it all out on our coffee table. We’d pause the TV every time they did the nominations and we’d guess who was going to win. We’d have a competition. One year for Christmas she got us tickets to go and we sat in the nosebleeds. It’s cool to be on this side of it and get to share it with her, too.”

cma-memories-billy-currington-2016-11-01-portraitBilly Currington
“I love the CMAs and I’ve always dreamed of being a part of them. So my first time was a funny situation. I actually snuck in to the CMA Awards when I was 19. I just moved to town and was working with a guy at a construction company and he had the bright idea of sneaking in to the CMAs. We did and and we got in. I ended up sitting next to Marty Brown and Johnny Cash for three-fourths of the show. Marty Brown snuck us backstage and that’s when we got kicked out. One guy walks up to me and he says ‘You don’t belong here, do you?’ because I was wearing jeans and an old t-shirt. I said ‘No, I guess I don’t.’ And they kicked us out.”

cma-memories-jerrod-niemann-2016-11-01-portraitJerrod Niemann
“I remember in the early ’90s when Garth Brooks did ‘Friends in Low Places’ live and had a bunch of dancers. That was pretty cool. I remember I was watching TV and was just mesmerized. That moment just sticks out.”

cma-memories-josh-turner-2016-11-01-portraitJosh Turner
That year that they told George Jones that he could only sing 30 seconds or a minute of ‘Choices’ and then Alan Jackson gets out there and sings a piece of his song and breaks into ‘Choices.’  I about jumped through the ceiling when I saw that because I was like ‘Holy cow, the guts that it took for him to do that.’ I respected Alan Jackson before that but after that, he’s the man. That was pretty cool to see him honor a legend and a pioneer like George Jones in that way. I’ve always tried to honor my heroes and the legends in this business in the same way.”

cma-memories-ronnie-dunn-2016-11-01-portraitRonnie Dunn
When we [Brooks & Dunn] hosted the New York City show kind of stands out in a lot of ways. [Michael] Bloomberg was running for mayor and had just won the election. We were right in the middle of that. He was so supportive, all the New Yorkers were, and then here come the country and western people to town. They were great hosts. It was a big deal. We got to go to Wall Street and hit the opening bell.”

cma-memories-trisha-yearwood-2016-11-01-portraitTrisha Yearwood
For me personally in my own career, I was kind of the Susan Lucci of female vocalists. The year that I won, I think I had been nominated four or five times when I won the first time and my parents were there and I wasn’t expecting to win. That was one of those moments that was really sweet. The first time I was on the CMAs in ’91, ‘She’s in Love With the Boy’ was out but I wasn’t eligible to be nominated for anything because it was not in the time frame. I performed at my first CMA and walking in the dressing room there were flowers from Reba saying ‘Congrats on your first CMA.’ So that was pretty cool.”

cma-memories-trace-adkins-2016-11-01-portraitTrace Adkins
The first one, you can’t forget the first one. I was nominated when I went to the first one and was sitting there just sweating and ultimately losing, I remember that. You gotta try to smile because you know someone is looking at you. But I lost to LeAnn Rimes, who was an infant at the time so it didn’t bother me that much. She was literally like 12. I also remember we were doing the CMA Awards Show after 9/11 and Diamond Rio got onstage and did “One More Day” and just killed me. I still to this day don’t think that I’ve personally witnessed a performance that moved me like that did that night. It was unbelievable.”

cma-memories-maddie-and-tae-2016-11-01-portraitMaddie & Tae
I remember always loving watching George Strait play when I was little. Being from Texas, I always looked forward to the King.”—Maddie Marlow

“I remember three years ago watching the CMA Awards and Carrie Underwood going on a rant about how it was male dominated, how everyone winning was a male, everyone performing was a male, and I remember sitting on the couch thinking, ‘Don’t worry Carrie, we’re coming.” Being here three years later is so cool for us.”—Tae Dye

cma-memories-frankie-ballard-2016-11-01-portraitFrankie Ballard
I was a musical kid, I loved listening to music. My dad was in to old country, so he would play and sing to me before I would go to bed. He would always sing Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler.’ I remember the first time seeing Kenny on the stage singing and making the connection between the song my dad sings and the artist actually doing it, it was a magical moment. Those kinds of moments were spiritual for me. I could feel it bubbling up inside of me and dreaming of doing it one day.”

Ronnie Dunn by Donn Jones/CMA; Kelsea Ballerini by Natasha Moustache/CMA; Trace Adkins, Frankie Ballard, Luke Bryan, Billy Currington, Maddie and Tae, Josh Turner, and Trisha Yearwood by John Russell/CMA; Jerrod Niemann by Todd Wawrychuk/ABC; Garth Brooks and Keith Urban by Image Group LA/ABC