Tearful Lainey Wilson Takes Home 2023 CMA Awards Entertainer of the Year

For Lainey Wilson, “Workin’ Overtime” has paid off.

The vocalist of “Watermelon Moonshine” won the big prize and was crowned artist of the year at the 57th annual CMA Awards on Wednesday.

Wilson spoke passionately about her love for the genre and the hard work that went into her award-winning year, both in the studio and on the road. She was clearly moved when she took the stage in Nashville to accept the prize.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do, it’s the only thing I know how to do,” anguished Wilson, thirty-one, started off. “After playing… By the end of the year, we’ll have performed in roughly 186 performances and put in a ton of labor, both this year and the years prior. After twelve and a half years in this town, I feel like country music is finally beginning to love me back.”

Wilson continued by mentioning that nine might just “be my lucky number.”

“That’s how many times we were nominated for the CMAs this year,” she said. However, that was also the year I penned my very first song. I received my first pair of bell bottoms in that year. That’s the year my parents first took me to Nashville and to the Grand Ole Opry. when was the year when my mother and father brought Tex home. The horse was a wild animal that needed to be broken, so they put me on its back and warned me to hold on for the trip.

And let me tell you something, there were moments when I wanted to cry and get down, saying things like, ‘Let me off the back of this monstrosity.'” She continued, “But every time it started bucking, I’d hold on a little bit tighter.”

Wilson clarified that she believed the horse had “prepared me for this ride, because it is wild.”

Wilson said, “And thank y’all for, for giving me this opportunity, and thank y’all for letting me be me.” “Grateful, Jesus. I’m grateful. I want to thank each and every member of my team.
I adore everyone. Duck, I love you. I pray that God blesses you, Mom and Daddy, Jane, and the boys.

Wilson revealed this month that she will be embarking on the Country’s Cool Again Tour, which will see her visit over 35 locations in North America beginning in May 2024.
Wilson said in a statement, “Putting on a show and singing along with the crowd is what gets me buzzin’.” “I would want to express my sincere gratitude to all of the supporters who have consistently turned out this year. We are very excited to see you on the Country’s Cool Again Tour around the country!

Ian Munsick, Zach Top, and Jackson Dean will serve as opening acts for Wilson, who just achieved her sixth No. 1 country record, marking the first time a female artist had topped the Billboard Country radio chart in two years.

See PEOPLE’s exclusive coverage of the CMA Awards to stay up to date on the biggest night in country music.

Bell Bottom Country, the singer’s fourth album, was released in October 2022. The singer has won several awards in the country music scene in recent years, including female vocalist of the year and album of the year at the 2023 ACM Awards, female artist of the year at the People’s Choice Country Awards, and CMA female vocalist of the year in 2022.

We live, sleep, and breathe country music in the town where I grew up. She told PEOPLE in August, “I feel like country music is finally starting to love me back. I have loved it with all of my heart.”
The 2023 CMA Awards, which were presented by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, aired on ABC on November 8 at 8 p.m. ET from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The next day, the show will only be available to view on Hulu.

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