Early winners were announced Wednesday (Nov. 9) via Good Morning America, which also featured a performance from Keith Urban.
Johnson’s heart-tugging “‘Til You Can’t” has picked up music video of the year; the clip was directed by Dustin Haney. This marks Johnson’s first CMA Awards win. Heading into the evening’s ceremony, he is also up for male vocalist of the year, single of the year (“‘Til You Can’t”), and new artist of the year (a category he was previously nominated for in 2019).
Meanwhile, the Pearce and McBryde collaboration “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” was named musical event of the year. This honor goes to both artists and producers of the song. “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” was produced by Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne.
“Girl” crowned Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart back in May, becoming the third duet between two solo women to top Country Airplay, dating to the chart’s January 1990 launch. The previous female collaborative chart leaders are Elle King and Miranda Lambert’s “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” which dominated in April, and Reba McEntire’s “Does He Love You,” with Linda Davis, which ruled for a week in November 1993.
“WOWWWW what a way to start #cmaawards day!!!” Pearce said via social media. “This song means everything to me & seeing the life it has had this year has been so rewarding. Thank you @cma for this. MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR!!! “
McBryde and Pearce each garnered five nominations heading into tonight’s CMA Awards. “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” earns both McBryde and Pearce four out of five of each artist’s nominations, including song, single, music event and music video. Both are also nominated in the female vocalist of the year category, with Pearce being the reigning CMA female vocalist of the year.
The CMA Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, air Wednesday, Nov. 9, on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.