Lainey Wilson Named CMA Entertainer of the Year, Becoming The First Female Artist Since Taylor Swift To Receive The Honor

“I’ve been in this town for 12 and a half years, and it finally feels like country music, it is starting to love me back,” she shared from the stage.


Nicole Palsa

| Posted on

November 8, 2023


11:30 pm

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Lainey Wilson; Photo by CMA

Lainey Wilson was crowned Entertainer of the Year at the 57th Annual CMA Awards, marking the first time a woman has received the honor since Taylor Swift in 2011. Wilson, the top nominee of the night with nine nods, was visibly shaken as she accepted the coveted award.

In her acceptance speech, she described how she feels that country music is starting to love her back, why the number nine may be her lucky number, and how breaking a horse prepared her for the ride of her music career.

A History-Making Win

“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s the only thing I know how to do,” she told the crowd. “We have played just, I think at the end of the year, we have played about 186 shows this year, and we’ve worked our butts off this year and so many years in between. I’ve been in this town for 12 and a half years, and it finally feels like country music, it is starting to love me back. I love it with my whole heart.”

Lainey Wilson; Photo by CMA
Lainey Wilson; Photo by CMA

As a nine-time nominee this year, Wilson detailed why nine is her good luck charm.

“I’ll say it’s really, really wild. I guess nine might be my lucky number. How many times we were nominated for the CMAs this year, but it’s also the year that I wrote my first song. It’s the year that I got my first pair of bell bottoms. It is the year that my mom and daddy brought me to Nashville for the very first time and took me to the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. It’s the year that my mom and daddy brought home this horse named Tex, and the horse was, it was wild and it needed breaking,” she recalled from the stage.

She continued, “And they put me on the back of that thing and they said, you better hold on. You better ride. And I tell you what, there were times where I was crying and I wanted to get down. I’m like, let me off the back of this thing. But y’all, every time it would start bucking, I’d hold on a little bit tighter. And I think that right there is one of the things that prepared me for this ride. It is wild. And thank y’all for letting me be me, and thank y’all for giving me this opportunity. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. Every single person on my team, I love y’all. I love you Duck. Love you mom and daddy…the boys. God bless you.”

Re-Live The Moment

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The Louisiana native is only the eighth female artist in history to be crowned CMA Entertainer of the Year. Previous women who have won CMA Entertainer of the Year include the following.

2011 – Taylor Swift 

2009 – Taylor Swift

2000 – The Chicks 

1999 – Shania Twain 

1986 – Reba McEntire 

1981 – Barbara Mandrell 

1980 – Barbara Mandrell 

1978 – Dolly Parton 

1972 – Loretta Lynn

Lainey Wilson; Photo Courtesy ABC
Lainey Wilson; Photo Courtesy ABC

Wilson racked up an additional four awards throughout the night, including Album of the Year for Bell Bottom Country, Female Vocalist of the Year, and two awards for “wait in the truck” with HARDY, Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year.

During her acceptance speech for Album of the Year, she thanked her team, her family, and her fans, sharing why her small town helped her be a better storyteller.

“Thank you to my family. Thank you to the fans. Thank you to my record label, Broken Bow, BMG. Thank you Sony Music Publishing. Thank you Red Light Management. Thank you to all the players on this record. Thank you Jay Joyce for being a mad scientist. Thank you to my songwriters, my co-writers, my people. I tell you what, I feel like my love for storytelling truly came from being from Baskin.That town of 200 people where there’s not a whole lot to do. I mean, you sit around a kitchen table and you tell the same old stories you’ve been hearing for years and the kind of stories that get better every single time you hear ’em. Stories that make you laugh, make you cry, make you want to drink a beer, just make you feel something. And that’s what we wanted to do with this record. So thank you so much.”

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The “Heart Like a Truck” singer scored an historic nine nominations, the fourth artist in CMA Awards history to receive nine or more nominations in a single year, following Merle Haggard and Miranda Lambert as well as Alan Jackson, who holds the record with 10 nominations in 2002.

In addition, Wilson is also the first artist in 14 years to secure double nominations for Single Of The Year in the same year, with “Heart Like a Truck” and her collaboration with HARDY on “Wait in the Truck.” Miranda Lambert was the last artist to achieve this feat in 2010 when she was nominated in the same category for “The House That Built Me” and “White Liar.”

Co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, the 57th Annual CMA Awards aired live on Wednesday, November 8 on ABC (8:00-11:00 PM/EST). The star-studded show featured performances by Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Chris Stapleton, Jordan Davis, Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde, The War And Treaty, Lainey Wilson, and more. 

Luke Bryan, Peyton Manning; Photo Courtesy CMA
Luke Bryan, Peyton Manning; Photo Courtesy CMA

Always known for epic collaborations, the 2023 CMA Awards also featured a Jimmy Buffett tribute from Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Mac McAnally, and Zac Brown Band, a not-to-be-missed performance of country classics from Post Malone, Morgan Wallen, and HARDY, a performance honoring The Judds from Jelly Roll and K. Michelle, plus special duets from Carly Pearce and Chris Stapleton, Old Dominion and Megan Moroney, and Little Big Town with Tanya Tucker.  

Paula Abdul, Bill Anderson, Nate Bargatze, Kevin Cahoon, Jordan Davis, Cynthia Erivo, Sara Evans, Brian Kelley, Lady A, Martina McBride, Parker McCollum, Craig Morgan, Darius Rucker, Corey Seager, Gerry Turner, Keith Urban, Hailey Whitters and Chris Young appeared to present during “Country Music’s Biggest Night.” 

Those who are unable to watch the show in real-time can watch the CMA Awards the following day on Hulu.

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Nicole Palsa

Written by

Nicole Palsa

Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Palsa has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.