According to the three cohosts, Paisley, 47, skipped the ceremony in lieu of some R & R. “You know I love a good man,” Parton, 73, acknowledged. “Speaking of a good man, thanks to Brad Paisley for stepping back and letting us gals do our things tonight. He and [wife] Kimberly [Williams-Paisley] are on vacation. We know they’re watching, and we miss you.”
The “Jolene” singer added: “Carrie’s missing you a lot. But we told her to suck it up. She’s got the two of us.”
McEntire, 64, then chimed in, “It takes two of us to fill Brad’s boots.”
The “Waitin’ on a Woman” singer hosted alongside Underwood, 36, from 2008 to 2018. He was replaced by Parton and McEntire in an effort to draw attention to women in the country music realm. Paisley was not nominated in any categories for the 2019 awards show.
The opening of the broadcast focused on fierce females, with the trio noting that the shift was meant to inspire “all the little girls watching tonight, dreaming of ruling the world of country music or maybe just ruling the world.”
Country powerhouses — including Maren Morris, Tanya Tucker, Brandi Carlile, Jennifer Nettles, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Sara Evans, Martina McBride and Crystal Gayle — began the broadcast by singing a slew of hits made popular by women in the genre. The mashup gave the industry an opportunity to concentrate “on women doing something special, powerful and beautiful,” according to the cohosts, who joined in the performance.
The “Southbound” songstress also earned nods for Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year.
Morris, meanwhile, is the most nominated artist of the night, with six nods.
The 53rd annual CMA Awards air on ABC Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
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