Ashley McBryde Proves She’s the Real MVP of the CMA Awards After Helping Carly Pearce Through Tears

After being named Female Vocalist of the Year during the 55th Annual CMA Awards, Carly Pearce was guided up to…


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

November 11, 2021


2:23 pm

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Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde; Photo Courtesy CMA

After being named Female Vocalist of the Year during the 55th Annual CMA Awards, Carly Pearce was guided up to the stage by fellow country music superstar Ashley McBryde, who was also nominated for the same category. When Pearce struggled to speak through her tears of joy, her class act of a friend and collaborator, McBryde, stepped up to say a few words for her.

“I really didn’t think this was going to happen,” the 31-year-old singer said before looking to her “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” duet partner, McBryde, for some “help.”

“What she meant to say was, there’s a lot of love, respect and admiration in this category,” McBryde chimed in, receiving a laugh from the audience for coming to the rescue of Pearce.

When Pearce regained her composure, she continued her speech, making sure to thank those who have had a great impact on her career. “I want to thank God! I want to thank my record label, Scott Borchetta and Big Machine Records… I’ve had just a crazy year and I just wanted to let you know that this means everything to me.”

“Country music saved me in a time I needed it most,” Pearce continued. ”I just want you guys to know that this is all I’ve ever wanted in the entire world and I just hope you know that country music is all I love, so thank you so much!”

Pearce, who attended the award show with her boyfriend, Nashville realtor and former MLB player, Riley King, by her side, sat in her seat, hands over mouth in utter shock from hearing her name called by the presenter. Before heading to the stage, the couple was seen sharing a kiss in celebration of her accomplishment.

Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde; Photo Courtesy ABC
Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde; Photo Courtesy ABC

Although Pearce and McBryde were competitors in this category, along with Gabby Barrett, Miranda Lambert, and Maren Morris, McBryde exhibited the same, if not more joy and excitement for Pearce when she was announced as the winner.

Earlier in the evening, the duet partners performed “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” for the first time. Together, with producer Shane McAnally, the singer/songwriters penned the single that appears on Pearce’s album, 29: Written in Stone.

The stunning performance matched the equally beautiful tone of the song, with Pearce sporting an elegant white dress and McBryde in a stunning all-black jumpsuit. Singing from opposite sides of the stage and slowly moving closer toward each other throughout the performance, they told their story portrayed in the song with true passion and sincerity.

“I never wanted to be that girl/ I never wanted to hate myself/ I thought this king of lonely only happened to somebody else/ Being the ‘other one’ when there’s another one/ God, this feels like hell,” they sang in the chorus.

The track was released in September, alongside the full length heartbreak album.

Before the award show, Pearce took to social media to share a special anniversary for her debut single, “Every Little Thing,” which started it all for Pearce and led her to where she currently is in her career.


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“5 years ago today, ‘every little thing’ was released. Today, I’m up for Female Vocalist of the Year & Album of the Year. Follow your dreams, y’all,” she wrote in her Tweet. 

Little did she know that in a few hours, her dreams would in fact come true at the 55th CMA Awards. Pearce was able to celebrate both of these accomplishments surrounded by passionate members of the country music industry.

The 55th Annual CMA Awards also featured performances from Luke Combs, Jimmie Allen, Gabby Barrett, Brothers Osborne, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Dan + Shay, Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, and Zac Brown Band.

Additionally, the show included star-studded collaborations by Chris Young and Kane Brown, Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde, Mickey Guyton, Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards, Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, BRELAND and HARDY.

Country singers Trace Adkins, Ingrid Andress, Kelsea Ballerini, Deana Carter, Russell Dickerson, Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, Lady A, Scotty McCreery, Darius Rucker, Lainey Wilson, and Trisha Yearwood were on hand to present during the ceremony.

Lauren Daigle, Faith Fennidy, Freddie Freeman, Amy Grant, Dulé Hill, Elle King, Zachary Levi, Hayley Orrantia, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Susan Sarandon, Saycon Sengbloh and Kurt Warner also made special appearances throughout the broadcast.

Hosted by Luke Bryan, the 2021 CMA Awards broadcasted live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 8/7c on ABC.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.