How the CMA Awards convinced Elle King “country's more rock 'n' roll than rock 'n' roll”

Sony Music Nashville

If Elle King can take home the CMA for Musical Event of the Year for “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” with Miranda Lambert on Wednesday night, she’ll have a matching set. 

Back in 2016, the “Ex’s & Oh’s” hitmaker took home the trophy for her chart-topping duet with Dierks Bentley, “Different for Girls,” and it was the beginning of an eye-opening experience for the rocker.

“I had had a really hard, mildly traumatic experience at the Grammys,” she recalls. “And I’d been nominated for two Grammys, and someone stepped on the back of my gown, and it ripped all the way up to my belly button. And we had to beg somebody to stitch me up right before they’re about to announce who won the award.”

Fast-forward to her subsequent appearance on the CMA Awards with Dierks, which left her a little bit dumbfounded — in a good way.

“I’m backstage at the CMAs,” she remembers, “and everyone has their dressing room doors open, and Luke Bryan is like, ‘Hey Elle, you want a drink?’ and putting his arm around me.”

“And everyone was genuinely kind and inviting and warm,” Elle continues, “and I was like, ‘Well, I think this is pretty fun.’”

“The rowdier I was,” she adds, “the more people like, amped it up. They know how to get down. And that’s when I was like, ‘Well, country’s more rock ‘n’ roll than rock ‘n’ roll.’”

To say Elle’s a favorite in the Musical Event category is an understatement. She was also nominated last year for “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” which Miranda cut with her tour mates. 

Tune in to see if Elle wins, as her backstage buddy Luke hosts the 55th CMA Awards Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.