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CMA Awards: Which smaller artist took some big prizes?

Veteran CMA Awards nominees like Luke Bryan and Little Big Town won prizes at this year's CMA Awards, but some of the most prestigious categories were dominated by a newcomer.

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    Chris Stapleton attends the 2015 CMA Awards.
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Country music fans may have not been familiar with the name Chris Stapleton before the CMA Awards ceremony on Nov. 4.

But the country singer was at the center of the ceremony, with Stapleton, who released his first album, “Traveller,” this spring, taking such prestigious awards as album of the year, best new artist, and best male vocalist over competitors like Jason Aldean, Kacey Musgraves, and Kenny Chesney. 

Singer Luke Bryan won the entertainer of the year prize and referenced Stapleton’s big victories. “Watching Chris Stapleton have this night is so uplifting,” Bryan said.

Recommended: The 25 best country songs of all time (+video)

As for other winners, singer Miranda Lambert won the prize for best female vocalist and Florida Georgia Line won the best vocal duo award, while Little Big Town won the best vocal group award and the single of the year award as well as the song of the year award for their track “Girl Crush.” “Girl” had previously met with controversy over lyrics that some interpreted as discussing LGBT topics and some country music radio stations refused to play the song. 

Singers Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hosted the program. 

Winning awards at any ceremony can sometimes provide a sales increase for artists. For example, at this year’s Grammys, which were held in February, singer Sam Smith took such major prizes as record of the year and song of the year for his track “Stay With Me” as well as the best new artist award. Following these victories, Smith’s song “Stay” experienced an increase in download sales, with the song being downloaded 81,000 times that week, an increase of 38,000 from the week before. 

In addition, for the CMA Awards to crown Stapleton with so many awards so quickly is a sign of how well-received his album was. For the past several years, artists like Blake Shelton, Lambert, and Bryan have dominated the prizes. A more traditional path is seen with singer Musgraves, who in 2013 won the best new artist award. The next year, she won the song of the year category for her track “Follow Your Arrow.”

The past few artists to have won the album of the year prize, which was won by newbie Stapleton this year, are veterans Lambert, Shelton, and Eric Church. The album for which Lambert won was her fifth, while Shelton’s was his eighth and Church’s was his third.

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