“Working overtime” paid off for Lainey Wilson.
At the 57th annual CMA Awards on Wednesday, the “Watermelon Moonshine” singer took home the top prize and was named Entertainer of the Year.
Wilson, who was visibly emotional as she walked the stage in Nashville for the awards, spoke about her love for the genre and the dedication she’s put into her award-winning year — not just in the studio, but on the road.
“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do, it’s the only thing I know,” a tearful Wilson (31) began her speech. “We’ve been playing… I think at the end of the year we’ll have played about 186 shows this year and we’ve worked our ass off this year and so many years in between. I’ve been in this town for a long 12 and a half years and it finally feels like country music is loving me back .”
Lainey Wilson hits the red carpet at the 57th Annual CMA Awards.
Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty
Lainey Wilson and boyfriend Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges step out together for date night at the 2023 CMA Awards.
Wilson then talked about the number nine, which she said might just be “my lucky number.”
“We’ve been nominated so many times this year for the CMAs,” she explained. “But it’s also the year I wrote my first song. It’s the year I got my first pair of bell bottoms. It’s the year my mom and dad brought me to Nashville for the first time and took me to the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. This year my mom and dad brought home this horse named Tex, and the horse was wild and needed to be broken, so they put me on the back of that thing and said, ‘You better hold on, you better ride.’”
“And I’ll tell you something, there were times when I cried and I wanted to get down, I said, ‘Let me off the end of this thing.’ But everyone, every time it started twitching, I would hold it a little tighter,” she added about the horse.
As Wilson explained, she felt the horse “prepared me for this ride, because it’s wild.”
“And thank you all for letting me be me and thank you all for giving me this opportunity,” Wilson concluded her speech. “Thank you Jesus. Thank you. Thank you to every person on my team. I love you all. I love you Duck. I love you mom and dad, Jane, guys, God bless you.”
Last month, Wilson announced the Country’s Cool Again Tour, which will take her to more than 35 cities across North America beginning in May 2024.
“Nothing gets me buzzing like doing a show and singing with an audience,” Wilson said in a statement. “I want to say a big thank you to all the fans who constantly showed up and showed up this year. We can’t wait to see you around the country on the Country’s Cool Again Tour!”
Wilson — who recently landed her fifth No. 1 country single, marking the first time in two years that a female artist has held the top spot Board Country Chart — They’ll be joined by Ian Munsick, Zach Top and Jackson Dean as opening acts.
Check out PEOPLE’s complete coverage of the CMA Awards for the latest news on country music’s biggest night.
The singer released her fourth album, Bell Bottom Countryin October 2022, and has won a number of country music awards in recent years, including 2022 CMA Female Artist of the Year, 2023 Female Artist of the People’s Choice Country Awards, and Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year at the 2023 ACM Awards.
“I grew up in a town where country music is life: we eat, sleep and breathe it. I loved her with all my heart and I feel like I’m finally starting to like country music,” she told PEOPLE in August.
The 2023 CMA Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, aired from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on November 8 at 8:00 PM ET on ABC and will stream exclusively on Hulu the following day.
Links: Tearful Lainey Wilson Takes Home 2023 CMA Awards Entertainer of the Year: ‘Thank Y’all for Letting Me Be Me’ – Tekmonk Bio, Tearful Lainey Wilson Takes Home 2023 CMA Awards Entertainer of the Year: ‘Thank Y’all for Letting Me Be Me’ – Kungfutv, Tearful Lainey Wilson Takes Home 2023 CMA Awards Entertainer of the Year: ‘Thank Y’all for Letting Me Be Me’ – Hot News