Justin Bieber was among the performers at the 54th Country Music Association Awards, on a night when singer-songwriter Eric Church was named entertainer of the year.
The ceremony, billed as the biggest night in country music, was disrupted shortly before it started by the news group Lady A had been forced to pull out of a planned performance after being exposed to Covid-19.
The group, who used to be known as Lady Antebellum, joined singer Lee Brice and Tyler Hubbard, from the duo Florida Georgia Line, in having to miss the show due to the virus.
And last but certainly not least, your 2020 #CMAawards Entertainer of the Year is...@EricChurch! This is his first time winning in this category and we couldn't be more thrilled for him! Congrats to all of tonight's nominees and winners!👏🏆 pic.twitter.com/BFd9gopD0NAdvertisement
— CMA Country Music (@CountryMusic) November 12, 2020
Despite the late cancellations, the ceremony went ahead in Nashville, Tennessee, and included performances from some of the biggest names in country music, with Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire among those in attendance.
Church won the biggest prize of the night, taking home entertainer of the year for the first time.
Dan + Shay were named vocal duo of the year and invited pop star Bieber to an empty Hollywood Bowl for a rendition of their crossover love song 10,000 Hours.
Rising star Morgan Wallen, who in October was booted off his performing slot on Saturday Night Live after violating the show’s coronavirus safety protocols, was named new artist of the year.
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) November 12, 2020
Maren Morris picked up the prizes for single and song of the year for The Bones while album of the year went to Luke Combs for his record What You See Is What You Get.
Morris, 30, was celebrating again when she was named female vocalist of the year. Combs won the male equivalent.
Grammy-winner Miranda Lambert, the most nominated performer on the night with seven nods, took home the music video of the year gong for Bluebird.
Veteran performer Charley Pride, 86, was honoured with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
And there was a tribute to country music great Kenny Rogers, who died of natural causes in March at the age of 81.
Little Big Town performed a cover of Rogers’ 1977 hit Sweet Music Man in his honour.
As well as the controversy surrounding the coronavirus tests, the Country Music Association had earlier been criticised for declaring the show a “no drama zone,” a statement many believed was an attempt to discourage stars from making political statements.
It later said it would “welcome every artist’s right to express themselves”.