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CMA Awards: Lionel Richie goes country; Band Perry wins new artist

November 9, 2011 |  7:12 pm

Lionel Richie performs with Darius Rucker at the CMA Awards
When an artist struggles, go country. One can't help but wonder what longtime country artists think of the likes of Lionel Richie and Natasha Bedingfield crashing their award show — but country has been good to the likes of Kid Rock, Jewel and Darius Rucker, so before one gets desperate, go country. Of course, that theory isn't foolproof; if it were we'd have about a dozen Nicole Scherzinger country records by now.

Nevertheless, Richie was on hand offering a medley of past hits -- "Deep River Feeling," "Stuck On You" and "Dancing On the Ceiling" -- with a slight country makeover. For those who wondered what a Rucker-enhanced version of "Stuck On You" would sound like, they now have their answer. 

As for Bedingfield, she earlier performed "Easy" with Rascal Flatts, giving the song a theatrical bent. Later, Sugarland and Matt Nathanson displayed adult-pop swiftness with "Run." Making more of an impact was the Band Perry, whose "All Your Life" had an unexpectedly brief cabaret bridge. Of the new artists who performed tonight, the Band Perry showed promise with elegance. The act was named new artist of the year.

PHOTOS: Country Music Awards red carpet arrivals

The two hosts also took a turn as performers, with Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood unveiling "Remind Me," a ballad in which Underwood saw every flash of Paisley guitar and raised it with a reach-for-the-rafters scream.


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-- Todd Martens

Photo: Lionel Richie performs with Darius Rucker. Credit: Mark Humphrey / Associated Press