The 50th annual CMA Awards began with a bang, as country legends and current stars paid tribute to some of the genre's finest songs during a lengthy medley.
Vince Gill paid tribute to the late Merle Haggard by performing a snippet of "Mama Tried," joined by Haggard's youngest son, Ben. His performance was followed by a salute to Buck Owens by Roy Clark and Brad Paisley (who appeared to be wearing the yellow rhinestone jacket Owens wore on his Carnegie Hall live album), Carrie Underwood singing "Stand By Your Man," Paisley and Charley Pride singing "Kiss an Angel Good Morning," Alabama's "Mountain Music," Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Reba's version of "Fancy," Dwight Yoakam's "Guitars, Cadillacs," Clint Black's "Killin' Time," Ricky Skaggs' "Country Boy," and Alan Jackson's "Don't Rock the Jukebox."
The grand finale of the country music medley was an emotional one, as all of the performers gathered on stage to sing Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever Amen." Travis himself joined in on the last lines of the song, to thunderous applause from the audience.
Stars assemble on CMA red carpet
Country's biggest stars are out Wednesday evening in Nashville, where the 50th annual CMA Awards are set to begin at 7 p.m. CDT at Bridgestone Arena.
The night is one for the history books: the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, who've gone a combined 176 years without a World Series title, will battle for the championship during the winner-take-all Game 7, which also begins at 7 p.m.
And more than 500 miles away from Cleveland's Progressive Field, some of Music City's best will vie for their own trophies as the CMA Awards celebrate their half-century mark.
Two awards were handed out earlier in the day: Music Video of the Year went to Chris Stapleton's "Fire Away," which was directed by Tim Mattia, and "Different for Girls," by Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King, was named Musical Event of the Year. Most of the day's award, though, are still up in the air.
Will Carrie Underwood be named Entertainer of the Year, or will Chris Stapleton's magical year culminate with an EOTY win? Will "Humble and Kind" author Lori McKenna be the first female songwriter to win Song of the Year honors two years in a row? Who is megastar Beyonce going to perform with during tonight's show? And what other surprises does the Country Music Association have up its sleeve for its 50th awards show?