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Gainesville's John Hopkins takes his mom as date to CMT Awards

Zac Brown Band brings home Performance of the Year award

POSTED: June 14, 2011 1:30 a.m.
/For The Times

Joan Hopkins chose a floor-length, sleeveless navy gown to wear at the star-studded event where her son, John, took home the Performance of the Year award as part of Zac Brown Band.

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It was a great night for Georgia-based bands last Wednesday at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, as several groups with Georgia ties took the stage for the CMT Awards, and a few took home the show’s coveted buckles.

And no one was prouder of one North Georgia-based group than Joan Hopkins of Gainesville, the mother of Zac Brown Band’s John Hopkins, who had one of the best seats in the house as her son’s date that night.

"When I determined that his wife was not going to be able to go, I was second in line," said Hopkins, who decided the show was "a good excuse to get a new dress," and picked out a long, sleeveless navy one for the occasion.

Hopkins, who had never been to an awards show, sat next to her son in the section of the arena reserved for performers and got an up-close view of some of some of country music’s biggest stars.

"It’s just pretty exciting when you see Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman walk in front of you," she said.

"And Jason Aldean was right down in front of us, and Melissa Peterman (of ‘Reba’) was right behind me."

She said it was exciting to be near celebrities, but the most exciting moment of the night came when Zac Brown Band went onstage to accept the award for CMT Performance of the Year for their performance of "Margaritaville" with Jimmy Buffet on "CMT Crossroads: Jimmy Buffet and Zac Brown Band."

"Thanks to all of our fans. Thanks to Jimmy Buffet and all the parrot heads in Margaritaville," Brown said as he accepted the award.

Hopkins said she and her husband joined Zac Brown Band at an after-party following the show.

"I sing these songs when I’m in the car by myself, and it’s just fun to put the faces with them," Hopkins said.

Another Georgia-based award winner was Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, originally of Douglas. The group won Duo Video of the Year for "Stuck Like Glue," the video for the catchy tune that features Nettles as a stalker and Kristian Bush, the other half of the duo, as her accomplice.

Sugarland also performed "Stand Up," and encouraged donations to the American Red Cross by featuring the Gilbert family, who lost their home in the recent tornadoes in Joplin, Mo.

Lady Antebellum took home Group Video of the Year for "Hello World," and sang their recent release, "Just a Kiss," then transitioned to the more upbeat "Kiss," originally by Prince.

Georgia also can claim the band’s piano player, Dave Haywood, who moved from Georgia to join the group in Nashville in 2006.

Georgia boys Luke Bryan, originally of Leesburg, and Jason Aldean, who hails from Macon, took the stage for upbeat numbers including Bryan’s "Country Girl Shake It for Me" and a remix of Aldean’s "Dirt Road Anthem," which also featured Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.

Aldean closed the show with a second song, "My Kinda Party."


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