CMA Awards Kick Off with Tribute to Borderline Bar Victims

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Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood perform onstage during the 52nd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 14, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

The 2018 Country Music Association Awards kicked off with a tribute to the 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country music bar last week.

Garth Brooks opened the show, telling the audience that Wednesday’s 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 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

He then held a moment of silence as the names of the 12 victims were displayed on the screen.

Luke Bryan, Luke Combs and others followed it with a performance. Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley — returning as hosts for the 11th time — then told jokes, ranging from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” to Underwood’s pregnancy.

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

The big-voiced singer will be working triple-duty at the CMA Awards as co-host, performer and nominee. Underwood will perform “Love Wins” from her latest album, “Cry Pretty.”

“It’s definitely interesting to try to sing with a basketball where my lungs and diaphragm used to be. I don’t know where they are now, they’re squished in there somewhere,” she said, smiling.

“It’s more strange, at least the last time, after you have the baby because then it’s kind of like you got used to having something there and then there’s nothing there,” she added. “And I remember trying to go in to the studio the first time a few months after I had Isaiah and I was like, ‘This feels weird. Where are my muscles?’ So yeah, it’ll be fine for one song. I can make it through one song.”

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

Stapleton is 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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