Stapleton honors Borderline bar victims in CMA Awards win

NASHVILLE (AP)- Chris Stapleton is cleaning house, as usual, at the 2018 Country Music Association Awards.

The singer-songwriter, who has won at the CMAs every year since 2015, picked up two awards during the show Wednesday night, including single and song of the year for his Grammy-winning hit, “Broken Halos.”

When he won single of the year, Stapleton said he was “thinking about the people in California right now” and he wants to “dedicate this award to them.”

He was referring to the 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country music bar last week — who were also honored at the top of the show held at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

Garth Brooks opened the CMAs by telling the audience that the event would be “dedicated to the 12 individuals who we lost far too soon just a week ago tonight at the Borderline in Thousand Oaks, California.

“Tonight let’s celebrate their lives. Let the music unite us with love,” Brooks said.

He then held a moment of silence as the names of the victims were displayed on the screen.

Co-host Carrie Underwood kept the positive and uplifting theme going when she gave a rousing performance of her song “Love Wins.” It features the lyrics, “I believe you and me are sisters and brothers/And I believe we’re made to be here for each other.”

Underwood and Brad Paisley returned as CMA hosts for the 11th time this year, telling jokes at the top of the show, which ranged from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” to Underwood’s pregnancy.

Underwood seemingly revealed a secret about the child, saying it will be a “Willie” after Paisley repeatedly asked about the sex of the baby.

The CMA Awards, airing live on ABC, will also feature performances by Brooks, Stapleton with Maren Morris and Mavis Staples, Florida Georgia Line with Bebe Rexha, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney, Pistol Annies and Keith Urban.

Stapleton walked in as the leading nominee with five, including a bid for entertainer of the year, where he will compete with Bryan, Aldean, Chesney and Urban.

Underwood, who is nominated for female vocalist of the year, said it is tough picking between friends when it comes to voting.

“When I vote, I legitimately try to look at who deserves it,” she said. “I know that you root for everybody, you’re glad that everybody’s there, you’re glad your friends are nominated for things, but I just try to think who’s killing it, who’s crushing it this year.”

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