The not-so-old meets the new, backstage at the 2023 CMA Awards

Backstage at the 2023 CMA Awards, it was a mix of the not-so-old guard meeting the almost-new.

Lainey Wilson scored the upset of the night, winning Entertainer of the Year the first time she was nominated, in only the second year she was ever eligible. Moments later, she was already thinking about her vision for the future.

“I think that we are in a very pivotal time right now in country music,” she told reporters backstage. “I’m very proud to be a part of this generation of country music. They all look different, they all sound different, they all have different stories, they all come from different places, and I think it’s really important for that to be a thing.” 

HARDY, who started the day winning two trophies alongside Lainey for “wait in the truck,” was simply happy to be part of country’s new direction.

“There is, in fact, a new era of country music that is making a really big footprint,” he proclaimed. 

Jelly Roll, always grateful and always humble, knew he’d want to relive the day he was officially welcomed into the fold, joking he could always watch it on Hulu in 4K. 

Two-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs — who’d taken Lainey out on tour earlier in the year — was transported back to his beginnings by the two wins for Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car,” recalling how he used the song to teach himself to play guitar when he was 21. 

Meanwhile, Chris StapletonBrothers Osborne and Old Dominion, with 21, 7 and 6 career trophies respectively, seemed to welcome the night’s new wind with open arms, with a determination to never take their own recognition for granted. 

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