Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, November 15 2018 2:47 AM EST
Chris Stapleton won many awards at the 2018 Country Music Association Awards and had the best performances, almost closing the perfect night.
That was until Keith Urban surprisingly won the top prize – this year's entertainer – just before the three-hour event was wrapped up Wednesday night.
Urban actress-wife, Nicole Kidman, cried when the singer walked on the stage to collect awards at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
"Baby girl, I love you so much," he said. "I was shocked, amazingly shocked."
Last Urban won the entertainer in 2005 and also defeated Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney for his prize.
"I hope my father lives to see this," said the Australian player.
Stapleton, however, cleaned the house at CMA, won four awards including male vocalists, songs and one year.
"I want to thank my children who are willing to help me go a little and not be the good father I always wanted," said the father of four and soon became five years since his wife, singer-singer Morgane Stapleton, was pregnant.
Stapleton also won the show that night: His supergroup featuring Mavis Staples, Maren Morris, Marty Stuart, and his wife gave a hearty and powerful "Friendship" show, a song made famous by Pop Staples, the father of the iconic singer. They then do "I Will Take You There", jam on stage along with the choir. They got a standing ovation from the audience.
When Stapleton won a year – where he won both as a player and producer – at the start of the show, he said he "thought about people in California now" and he wanted to "dedicate this award to them."
He referred to 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country music bar last week, who were also honored at the top of the program when Garth Brooks held silence when the names of the victims were displayed on the screen.
"Tonight let's celebrate their lives. Let music unite us with love," Brooks said.
CMA, which was broadcast on ABC, also took time to honor those affected by the deadly forest fires in California.
"We send our love to you," Carrie Underwood said, also calling "brave firefighters."
Underwood works triple-duty as a co-host, player and nominee at CMA. He had tears in his eyes when he won the female vocalist this year.
"Thank you, Lord. I have been blessed with so much in my life," he said. "Thank you family. Thank you country music. Thank you family country music … It's all about family around here."
He maintained the theme of the event which was positive and encouraging when he gave a lively performance from his song "Love Wins." It features the lyrics, "I believe you and I are sisters and brothers / sisters. And I believe we are made to be here for each other."
Kacey Musgraves, the only woman nominated for this year's album, won a prize for "Golden Hour."
"This is really a really crazy time – 10 years ago today I moved to Nashville. It was very crazy," he said.
"I'm very proud of that," he said of country-leaning pop albums, inspired by Sade, Bee Gees, and others. "It was inspired by this beautiful universe, and all of you, and most love."
Dan + Shay lost all four nominated categories, but gave an impressive performance from their hit "Tequila." When Brother Osborne won this year's vocal duo, John Osborne said, "I think this will go to Dan + Shay. Make a sound for the children."
"I don't know why we continue to win this," John Osborne said when he first walked on the stage.
"If this is in Florida there will definitely be a recount," T.J added. Osborne, who produced laughter from the crowd.
Luke Combs, who has the most flowing country music album in the country, sings on stage with a red cup in his hand and wins a new artist this year.
"God, I like country music, man," said Combs.
Brooks presents a touching new song dedicated to his wife, Trisha Yearwood, who is teary-eyed and hears the song for the first time. Ricky Skaggs's latest Country Hall of Famer appears with Brad Paisley and Urban.
Underwood and Paisley returned as hosts of the CMA for the 11th time this year, telling jokes at the top of the show, which ranged from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper "A Star Is Born" to Underwood's pregnancy.
Underwood seems to reveal the secret about the child, saying it will be "Willie" after Paisley repeatedly asks about the sex of the baby.