East Tennesseans shine at 50th CMA Awards

WATE 6 On Your Side staff - NASHVILLE (WATE) - East Tennessee was well represented at the 50th Country Music Association Awards in Nashville on Wednesday night.

The highlight, of course, was Dolly Parton accepting the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Her friend, actress Lily Tomlin, presented the award following an all star tribute to the country legend, including Pentatonix and Reba McEntire.

"Dolly Parton is country music," said Tomlin.

More: Top 5 Moments from the CMAs, Including Dolly Parton tribute

Thomas Rhett won Single of the Year for his song "Die a Happy Man," written for his wife Lauren Akins, a University of Tennessee graduate. He also performed the song.

Knoxville native Kelsea Ballerini was nominated for best new artist and female vocalist of the year, but did not win either. She also performed her hit song "Peter Pan."

Former Vol and NFL legend Peyton Manning presented the Pinnacle Award to Knox County native Kenny Chesney. The award recognizes an artist who has achieved global prominence through concert performances and record sales. The award has only been given out two other times: to Garth Brooks in 2005 and Taylor Swift in 2013.

"Standing up here in this spot tonight, looking out at a lot of friends and a lot of heroes that have touched my life in so many ways," said Chesney. "Your music, your songs took a kid from East Tennessee and showed me it was possible."

Manning was the subject of a funny moment during hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood's monologue during a joke about his insurance commercials.

As the evening was a tribute to the history of country music, many country legends performed Wednesday night. The Oak Ridge Boys performed a few bars of "Elvira" with Paisley.

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