Loretta Lynn and Jerry Lee Lewis Honored at the CMA Awards with a Fiery Performance — In One Case, Literally

Elle King and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys perform on stage at the 56th Annual CMA Awards. (Photo: Terry White/WireImage)

The country community has been shaken by the losses of several legends this year, including Loretta Lynn, who was the first woman to win Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 50 years, and Jerry Lee Lewis, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 19 Just nine days before he came the death. Both symbols received fitting tributes at the 56th Annual CMA Awards, which took place on Wednesday, but one of those honors was more fiery than the other—literally—and it was definitely more polarizing.

The show opened coldly with old shots of Major Lane accepting her Entertaining Trophy of the Year at the 1972 CMAs, followed by a mix of Lane songs by three of country music’s biggest stars—Carrie Underwood singing “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” Miranda Lambert does ‘Don’t Go Home Drinking’ and Reba McEntire declares ‘You’re Looking at the Countryside’—before all three band together for ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Another Lynn heiress, Carly Pierce, played her original role in 2021’s Dear Miss Loretta, introducing her performance by saying, “I grew up in Kentucky, like the great Loretta Lynn. Mamau Pierce and I loved listening to Loretta’s songs together. I think Mamau loved Loretta so much because she was also the daughter of a coal miner. I’ve never met Loretta – I always wished – but I wrote this song in her honor because I really like everything about her, especially how she wrote about her life without apology. Loretta, this is for you.”

While Lynn’s greeting was gentle and sentimental, Lee’s tribute was pure rock ‘n’ roll rebellion. Alt-Americana agitator Elle King, accompanied by the Ohio blues-garage duo the Black Keys, lit the stage—yes, literally, when King lit her piano—for the exciting and boisterous “Great Balls of Fire.” King, wearing ruffled, leather-trimmed pants with the “killer” adorned with rhinestones across her backside, Juicy Couture-style, snarled and slapped and hit the keys, as the keys swung and banged along her length.

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Elle King performs at the 56th Annual CMA Awards.  (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzoni)

Elle King performs at the 56th Annual CMA Awards. (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzoni)

Elle King performs at the 56th Annual CMA Awards.  (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzoni)

Elle King performs at the 56th Annual CMA Awards. (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzoni)

Elle King and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys perform on stage at the 56th Annual CMA Awards (Photo: Terry Wyatt/WireImage)

Elle King and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys perform on stage at the 56th Annual CMA Awards (Photo: Terry Wyatt/WireImage)

Elle King and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys perform on stage at the 56th Annual CMA Awards (Image: ABC via Getty Images)

Elle King and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys perform on stage at the 56th Annual CMA Awards (Image: ABC via Getty Images)

Twitter reaction split. Some fans loved Louis’s unpredictable, unpredictable energy, but others criticized Zee King’s physique and Gene Simmons-like tongue. Some critics accused the King of not actually playing the piano, of not being country enough, of being rude and disrespectful, or even of being drunk. However, this I was The most vivid moment of the night, and that was the kind of tribute that the brutal murderous man himself – and perhaps even the rebellious girl Lane, might appreciate as well.

“Great Balls of Fire” wasn’t the only rock ‘n’ roll moment at the three-hour CMA concert on Wednesday. The War and Treaty duo and the Osborne Brothers teamed up to preview an audio clip from “Nashville’s Love Letter to the Rolling Stones.”And the cold stoned country, the all-star group awaited the covers of the multiple rocks, and they launched the stage in their own way with “It’s Only Rock & Roll.” And earlier in the night, the Osborne brothers had the chance to acknowledge the legacy of another country’s once tragic legend. Naomi Judd passed away in 2022.

Naomi’s daughter and Goddess bandmate Winona Judd presented the Osborne Brothers with this year’s duo award, taking a moment on the podium to honestly say, “In death there is life, and here I am. Thank you for your love and support. The past six months have been a time of grief and a time of gratitude.” And I am humbled and honored tonight that I am still sitting at the country table. I have the opportunity to present the CMT Award for Duo, which my mother and I have won seven times.” When great fan Goods T.J. Osborne accepted this year’s honor, he said, “There have been so many surprising moments in this entire career. The fact that I moved to Nashville and stayed here and eventually didn’t eat ramen, that was a surprise. And to be here tonight and then to be Having Wynonna while winning this award would be one of the most important events of my entire life. That’s pretty crazy for me.”

But perhaps the most poignant talk about the loss was Matt Ramsay, as he accepted this year’s Old Dominion’s Vocal Group award. “Obviously we lost a lot of legends, but no one in that category, and really any category, would be here without Alabama. And we just lost Jeff Cook,” he said, referring to the Alabama co-founder and guitarist who died at 7. November. a space saver, you know? I am so grateful to have my friends, and I can’t imagine losing any of you guys. I am very honored to play music. We love you. And we love the opportunity to do what we love to do.”

Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning hosted the 56th Annual CMA Awards Gala and took place on November 9 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Other artists include Ashley McBride, Brandi Clarke, Cody Johnson, Zac Brown Band, Laney Wilson, Morgan Wallen, Thomas Rhett with Katy Perry, Patti Lovelace, Chris Stapleton, Cole Swindell and Joe Di Messina, and Kelsey Ballerini with Kelly Clarkson and Carly. Pierce on the excitement of “You’re drunk, go home.”

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The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award for Alan Jackson was presented with the best performances by Dirks Bentley, John Pardy, Carrie Underwood, Lenny Wilson, and Jackson himself clearly moved. The night’s biggest honor, “Artist of the Year,” went to Luke Combs. For a full list of this year’s Country Music Association award winners, click over here.

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