Each year, the CMA Awards recognize outstanding achievements by artists and broadcasters in the country music scene.
"It's been nearly 13 years since I came to Nashville with a dream of being a songwriter and a recording artist", she continued.
"I would have cried, but I didn't want to mess up my eyelashes", said Parton, sporting a bright yellow dress. At a podium sheathed in a cloth banner that declared country music is "best liked worldwide", they presented 10 trophies in the non-televised ceremony, bestowing the inaugural entertainer of the year award to Eddy Arnold.
"What a wonderful night".
This year's top nominees include Stapleton, Underwood, Maren Morris, Keith Urban and Eric Church. Lambert also holds the current six-win streak in the female vocalist category.
Morris also thanked the songwriting community, her family, her professional team and her boyfriend, Ryan Hurd, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday.
"Good Morning America" co-anchor Lara Spencer caught up with the big winners backstage, including Thomas Rhett who won Single of the Year for his song "Die a Happy Man".
This year, performers include Country Music Hall of Fame artists Charley Pride, Alabama, and Alan Jackson. It's going to be a great show and you won't want to miss any of the awesome country performances that they've got in store this year!
A number of celebrities were in the audience, including Peyton Manning, Jennifer Garner, Olivia Newton-John and the Final Five Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are revving up to host the 50th Annual CMA Awards tonight at 8 p.m. ET from Nashville. "Brad and I are extremely involved in the writing of the script", says Underwood, who remembers growing up watching the CMAs, "sitting on the floor in front of our television, hoping for my favorite artists to win and yelling at [the TV] when they didn't".
When Underwood told him he wasn't even nominated, Paisley called her a "nasty woman", another reference to something Trump said at a debate.
Later in the show, Jason Aldean sang Brooks & Dunn's "Brand New Man" with the duo; couple Garth Brooks and Yearwood performed a medley together; and Little Big Town sang their new song, "Better Man", which was written by Taylor Swift, who will present entertainer of the year.
"I have a job in this town because of this guy's wife, Faith Hill", said McKenna, who was escorted to the stage by McGraw.
Kenny Chesney, who released a new album last week, earned the Pinnacle Award.