Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Country Music Celebrates Itself, and We Predict Who Takes Home CMA Hardware

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Country Music Celebrates Itself, and We Predict Who Takes Home CMA Hardware

Article excerpt

On Wednesday, all the pretty people will gather in Nashville, Tenn., for the Country Music Association Awards.

Songs will be sung, jokes will be told by emcees Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, and of course, awards will be handed out.

As a lifelong country music fan, I can make predictions with the best of them.

Female vocalist * I think it's a two-person race between Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris apologies to fellow nominees Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire and Kelsea Ballerini. But I'm going strictly on vocal firepower, which both Lambert and Morris offer by the truckload.

Lambert has her double-album "The Weight of These Wings" to back her up, while Morris made a strong debut more than a year ago. And even though Lambert won the trophy from 2010 to 2015, for six straight wins, she'll probably take home trophy No. 7 this year.

Male vocalist * This is always tough to predict. Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett and Dierks Bentley are strong candidates. Any one of them would be a fine choice. If my only test was the strength of vocals, it's Stapleton. Who am I kidding? It's Stapleton regardless. The dude is that good. Just check out any track on "From A Room, Volume I" before he drops Volume 2 on us in December.

Vocal duo * Brothers Osborne. Next question. Seriously, the brothers from Deale, Md., are the real deal and anyone who's listened to their sole album, "Pawn Shop," and their EP knows it. They have "bro" in their name, but they are a far cry from any kind of "bro" country.

Vocal group * The front-runner has to be Little Big Town, winner for the past five years. But ... Lady Antebellum has a new album and new tour after a hiatus. Old Dominion could be considered an up-and-comer. Rascal Flatts and Zac Brown Band have long histories as nominees. Here's my radical thought: ZBB made a sort of "comeback" album this year or at least, a return to a more country sound on "Welcome Home" than their previous album, "Jekyll + Hyde." Will that be enough to break the Little Big Town lock? …

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