The 2022 CMA Awards, which aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (Nov. 9), were ablaze with spectacular moments onscreen, including trophy wins for Luke Combs, Cody Johnson and Lainey Wilson. Performances included Brothers Osborne with The War and Treaty, stellar tributes to Alan Jackson and Loretta Lynn and a searing performance from Chris Stapleton and Patty Loveless on “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” Plus, there was an intimate rendering of “Dear Miss Loretta” from Carly Pearce, accompanied by Ricky Skaggs and Sonya Isaacs.
Backstage, on the red carpet and in the press room, artists had plenty to say. Here are some of the best moments you didn’t see on the CMA Awards’ ABC broadcast.
Brothers Osborne Discuss Their Winning Moment With Wynonna Judd, John Osborne Reflects on Baby News
During their acceptance speech for vocal duo of the year, Brothers Osborne’s John Osborne revealed that he and his wife Lucie Silvas are expecting twins. Backstage in the press room, Osborne told reporters that the onstage reveal was an impromptu one.
“I guess I got nervous and didn’t know what to say…Wynonna is standing right next to us, and you look up and you see the clock going and I’m so nervous right now,” he said. “You never prepare a speech, you never expect to win, and I looked over and I saw Lucie sitting over there and my heart filled up…and I just wanted to tell the world. I hope that’s okay, Lucie. I’m sorry if it wasn’t.”
T.J. called accepting the vocal duo of the year honor — with Wynonna Judd presenting it — “mind-blowing.” “I’m still processing that moment…it feels in those moments very like a carrying of the torch.”
John added, “She is iconic, The Judds have been iconic, very important to the country music story.”
Morgan Evans Discusses His New Song, “Over For You”
Not long after news was revealed of Evans’ split with Kelsea Ballerini, the country singer-songwriter performed a new song at Australia’s CMC Rocks festival and the ballad instantly connected with listeners. On the CMA Awards red carpet, Evans told Billboard‘s Tetris Kelly about the song.
“Yeah, breakups suck and it’s been a rough few months,” Evans said, “But writing this song kind of helped me sort through a lot of that.” He said he didn’t have any expectations when he first performed the song, but says “I felt like I needed to get it off my chest. The reaction to that was kind of overwhelming.”
Lainey Wilson Talks Having Her Father With Her at the CMA Awards
Wilson had a big night at the CMAs, picking up two wins out of six nominations. It was extra special because she brought her father to the awards with her, after he has spent months battling a health scare.
“This actually was a dream of my daddy’s when he was a little boy,” Wilson told reporters backstage after her wins. “He used to roll a picnic table out to the side of the highway, and pretend he was Glen Campbell on top of the picnic table and play guitar for the cars passing by. This was a full-circle moment for me and my family. I’ll tell you what, he’s grinning ear to ear and it’s the most I’ve seen him smile in months since he got sick. Of course, this right here means the world to me, but having him here tonight with me meant just as much.”
Luke Combs Says He Was “So Nervous” About a Possible Second Entertainer of the Year Win
Backstage in the press room after picking up his second CMA entertainer of the year win (in addition to album of the year for Growin’ Up), Luke Combs told reporters he was nervous about his EOY nomination this year.
“Last year when I won [entertainer of the year] a bunch of people reached out to me after winning entertainer [of the year] last year, and said, ‘Hey man, just enjoy tonight. It may never happen again and it’s the pinnacle of success that you can have in this business.’ I’m not going to lie to you, I was so nervous tonight about it.” He recalled how, earlier in the week, he had “this somber thought of, ‘Man, this could be the last two days that I’m entertainer of the year, ever. I may never win this again.’ So really, it’s just being present in the moment you’re in now. My wife [Nicole] is here and our son [four-month-old Tex] is at home. My parents are still around, just being thankful for the things that I have right now and enjoying the moment.”
Wynonna Judd Meets Katy Perry, Reveals “Tricks of the Trade”
The CMA Awards red carpet featured the meeting of two towering musical talents, Katy Perry and Wynonna Judd. In an interview with Billboard‘s Tetris Kelly, Perry gestured toward the country music luminary and said, “This is who I aspire…the glitter in the hair, the full beat,” later adding, “just your awesome energy and personality, I just love you.” To which Wynonna replied, “It comes from being so poor, this can of glitter spray was like $1.99, I swear to God…It’s what we did when we were poor and now that we have money we still do it because we know where we come from.”
“Tricks of the trade,” Perry added.
The War and Treaty Reveals the Influence of The Civil Wars
Husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty performed on the CMA Awards stage alongside Brothers Osborne, performing The Rolling Stones’ classic “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It).” The War and Treaty’s Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter have been capturing the attention of audiences for the past few years with their sterling vocal harmonies. Trotter Jr. told reporters backstage at the CMAs that they looked to one duo in particular to help shape their own tightly woven harmonies.
“We’ve always sung with our families but being able to sing intimately as husband and wife, we have a few years under our belts, but we had to look to other duos…Tanya and I, we took literally two years studying The Civil Wars, Joy [Williams] and John Paul White. They were electric and they had something so unique. We were floored by how they were able to captivate every audience with a guitar and two voices. We really studied them and realized it’s all about the intimacy, not just intimacy as lovers but two human beings saying let’s flow and roll together.”
The War and Treaty also released their EP Blank Page ahead of the CMA Awards on Wednesday (Nov. 9).
Cody Johnson Discusses His Single of the Year Win
Backstage in the press area, Johnson discussed his music video of the year and single of the year wins (both for “‘Til You Can’t”), as well as his male vocalist of the year nomination.
“If I’m being honest, single of the year was the one I wanted to win. That’s a team victory,” he told reporters backstage. “That’s Warner Music Nashville pushing my first No. 1, double-platinum single on Billboard, and it couldn’t have gone better. As far as male vocalist goes, when you’re in a category with Chris Stapleton, you kind of already know who’s going to win, right? So I’m feeling pretty happy tonight.”
Jordan Davis Talks About Sharing a CMA Award Win With His Brother
Davis took home the song of the year honor for “Buy Dirt,” featuring Luke Bryan, which Davis wrote with his brother Jacob Davis as well as another set of brothers, Matt and Josh Jenkins. Backstage in the media room, Davis shared with reporters how special it is to win a song of the year honor alongside his brother.
“We’ve had some moments backstage to kind of drink this in. We both moved to town to write songs and just try to make a living doing that. We’d have been crazy to think that this was even attainable, but now that we have it, and I have it with my brother — I shared a room with the guy until I was 16 years old, so we’re pretty close. This is something that nobody’s going to be able to take away from us.”
Davis also shared that he is grateful for Bryan’s friendship, calling Bryan “not only someone I look up to professionally, but somebody that personally has become a buddy, a guy that I can reach out and talk to about whatever I need to talk to him, and how tough this business is.”