CMA Awards 2016: 5 Highlights From Country Music's Biggest Night

PHOTO: Recipient of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award Dolly Parton poses backstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. PlayMichael Loccisano/Getty Images
WATCH Biggest Moments at the 50th Annual CMA Awards

Stars filled Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night for country music's biggest night, the CMA Awards.

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This year's show, co-hosted for the ninth year in a row by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, was packed with performances from the likes of Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, surprise appearances (Taylor Swift!) and, of course, plenty of emotional speeches.

For those who missed the broadcast live on ABC, here are five of the most talked-about moments.

The star-studded opening number: The CMA Awards started off strong, with a number of artists taking the stage. Reba McEntire, Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black, Alan Jackson and others performed their hits. The most emotional moment for many viewers was when Randy Travis, who suffered a stroke in 2013, sang the final "amen" in his song "Forever and Ever, Amen." Afterward, Underwood and Paisley welcomed the audience with a few political jokes and a song with lyrics that included "We're so freaking sick of politics, we don't even care who wins ... This election is taking forever and ever ... Make it end."

A litany of performances: Chris Stapleton remarked at one point that he felt like a fan during the show, and it was easy to see why. He, along with a number of other stars, performed throughout the evening — Jason Aldean with Brooks & Dunn; Dierks Bentley with Elle King; Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood; Tim McGraw; and Luke Bryan.

New faces in the crowd and onstage: Sharon Stone, Peyton Manning, Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner aren't stars many would initially associate with country music, but all of them appeared onstage at some point. One of the most talked-about moments of the show occurred when a non-country singer, Beyonce, took the stage with the Dixie Chicks to perform her song "Daddy Lessons."

Dolly Parton receives the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award: Lily Tomlin, Parton's co-star in "9 to 5," presented her friend with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, calling her "one of the greatest artists in the history of country music." Before Parton could accept the honor, Jennifer Nettles and Pentatonix, McEntire, Musgraves and Underwood sang a medley of her songs, culminating with a rendition of "I Will Always Love You." "This is so touching," Parton said. "I would cry, but I didn't want to mess up my eyelashes." Poking fun at Nelson, she remarked, "This is an absolute high for me."

Taylor Swift presents the night's greatest honor: Brooks took home the biggest award of the night, entertainer of the year, and the moment was made even more special by the return of Taylor Swift, who gave it to him. "I feel so honored ... to be a part of this historic night that we will all remember," she said.

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