The word “entertainer” gets thrown around a lot, particularly when it comes to the CMA Entertainer of the Year. Certainly the reiging Entertainer Keith Urban fits that description, with his ability to play multiple instruments, along with holding your attention through a two hour show. As we consider who could win that award this year, a pretty good case could be made for Carrie Underwood. It’s an award she’s never won. In fact, no woman has won it since Taylor Swift in 2011. This could be Carrie’s year, as she kicked off her 2019 Cry Pretty 360 Tour this week.
We got to see her in Birmingham, and it was the second show of the tour. From the first song of the show, her new single “Southbound,” to the last song, her recent hit “Love Wins,” every song was meticulously staged in terms of her vocal performance and visual presentation. She told the crowd, “It feels good to be back on the road again.” She pointed out that it’s been 14 years since she got on the “rocket ship called American Idol.” But this show lives up to that image in every possible way. Carrie Underwood is still that American Idol who we saw on TV, and have followed through all these hits on the radio, and now on stage. Her very first country hit was “Jesus Take The Wheel,” and her fans still sing every word. She invited them time to sing the last chorus with her. The new songs from Cry Pretty are still as vocally stunning as they are visually appealing as she did “Backsliding” and “Drinking Alone.” These were mixed in with some of her most moving songs: “Temporary Home” and “Something In The Water.”
For those keeping track, there were five costume changes during the two hour show. That’s something none of the male singers can match. I’m told the costumes were hand-picked from dozens available to her, and they may change as she travels around the country. The stage itself was designed around the “eye” on the Cry Pretty album cover. That graphic of her dripping mascara was emphasized during the two song encore with the title song “Cry Pretty” and “Love Wins.”
We started talking about “entertainer,” and throughout the show, we were reminded about her abilities as a multi-instrumentalist. Carrie played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, and even the conga in one song. At one time, playing multiple instruments qualified Barbara Mandrell and Taylor Swift to each win Entertainer twice. A couple of recent studies wondered why no women were nominated for the ACM Entertainer award this year. If playing multiple instruments, writing & performing a huge number of hits, holding your attention for two hours, and headlining an all-female 60-city tour are the qualifications, then we should see Carrie Underwood’s name among the five nominees for the 2019 CMA Entertainer of the Year this fall. Here are a few more pictures: