The 56th annual CMA Awards took place on Wednesday (Nov. 9) at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and celebrated the biggest stars and rising talent in country music. The 2022 award show saw acts like Lainey Wilson, Jordan Davis, and Cody Johnson take home their first CMA trophies while Luke Combs, Old Dominion, and Brothers Osborne were repeat winners.
“This is the Super Bowl of country music,” CMA co-host Peyton Manning said at the start of the show. We couldn’t agree more. Here are seven things we learned backstage at the 2022 CMA Awards.
1. Brothers Osborne will continue to push barriers on new music
After accepting their fifth win for CMA Vocal Duo of the Year, Brothers Osborne shared some insight into their next album.
“We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we have creative freedom,” John Osborne said. “Our next record we’re changing up the process. We’re going with different sounds and we don’t want to be complacent. We’re always wanting to push ourselves as performers, as musicians, as writers, as singers, as people, and we feel lucky that this community is giving us fertile ground to do that.”
2. Old Dominion credit Alabama as a “complete influence”
Days after the death of Alabama’s Jeff Cook, five-time Vocal Group of the Year Old Dominion shared the impact the band has had on the country genre.
“Alabama is a big part of all of our childhood, they’re really in the fabric of country music,” Old Dominion frontman Matthew Ramsey said. “They’ve been a complete influence. When you’re a band in this genre, you can’t help but look to them for examples of the right way to do things. They’re just a massive, massive band that really shaped country music and changed the direction of it. We wouldn’t be here without him.”
3. Jordan Davis wrote “Buy Dirt” in a Tennessee cabin after Bible study
Jordan Davis, who won his first CMA trophy for Song of the Year with “Buy Dirt” Wednesday evening, was visibly emotional thinking about his journey to Nashville and writing the song with his brother Jacob, and collaborators Josh and Matt Jenkins.
“We both moved to town to write songs and just try to make a living doing that,” Davis said. “As special as this night is and it truly is, being in that living room of a cabin the second ‘Buy Dirt’ was said and the second that melody fell out and the chorus came out … We’ve all been able to witness this song from the birth of it. To think that this came out of a cabin in Murfreesboro at 9 a.m. after a quick Bible study is crazy. That is just how special and how unreal music is and how grateful I am to get to wake up every day and write songs.”
4. The War and Treaty first connected with Brothers Osborne through a DM
While The War and Treaty’s powerful Rolling Stones tribute with Brothers Osborne at the CMA Awards was a show highlight, the bands actually first connected over an Instagram message. As the War and Treaty’s Michael and Tanya Trotter explain, the DM came after they performed with Dierks Bentley at the 2021 ACM Awards.
“That evening, we got an Instagram message from TJ saying, ‘Hey, I’m having an after party at my house and I want y’all to come by,’” Michael Trotter, Jr. recalled. “We hadn’t met or anything like that and we went to his house and he was so kind to us. … So when we were positioned with this tribute to the Rolling Stones with Brothers Osborne we were just overjoyed and just filled with so much love and happiness. Where else can you get two brothers and two lovers colliding like that?”
5. Cody Johnson was asleep when he won his first-ever CMA Award
Cody Johnson took home two trophies on Wednesday: Music Video and Single of the Year for his chart-topper, “’Til You Can’t.” His video win was announced while he was fast asleep and he learned of the honor only when his wife, Brandi, woke him up.
“My first CMA Award was a little different than most people,” he said backstage after his second win. “I woke up at about eight o’clock this morning, my alarm was set for 9:30. My wife was shaking me to wake me up, and I thought, ‘What in the world could possibly be so important that you’re waking me up before the alarm?’ It was because we had won Video of the Year. An incredible moment.”
6. Even Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs has tough days
While Luke Combs took home the coveted Entertainer of the Year Award for the second consecutive year last night, he confessed backstage that a recent rough night had him questioning why he’s here.
“Everybody has tough days at work, whether you do what I do or you’re in here tonight, you have things outside of work that affect how you do your job,” he said. “I had a rough night a few weeks ago, and I remember coming off stage and closing the greenroom for half an hour sitting there by myself and taking a lot of stock of why I do what I do.
“I never moved to this town to not have fun,” he continued. “I moved here to love what I do. And man, I have never loved it more than I do tonight than I do every night when I step out on that stage—even when I have a rough night. I’m truly, truly blessed and I have a great team and a great family to thank for that.”
7. Lainey Wilson says country music’s sisterhood is real
Lainey Wilson won her first two CMA Awards last night for New Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year. The singer was nominated for the latter alongside women she looks up to – Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce, and Carrie Underwood.
“A lot of the girls have given me advice,” she said. “They have pointed me in directions. I mean, they have listened to me cry. It’s really a sisterhood. It truly is and they are rooting me on and I feel the love is so genuine and it goes for them, too. … I’ve been here a long time working hard and they know that about me too and I think they’re really happy for me. Miranda just came over and Ashley, too. I mean they had tears in their eyes. They were just as excited for me as I would have been for them.”
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images