Chris Stapleton's Starting Over is 2021's CMA Awards Album of the Year. The artist, along with producer Dave Cobb and mix engineer Vance Powell, accepted the honor during Wednesday night's (Nov. 10) ceremony at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

The win gives Stapleton three CMA Album of the Year wins, something not lost on him.

"It's always an honor to receive the Album of the Year award," he said, accepting his third award of the night. "We work real hard to make albums. We like albums." He also thanked his team and emphasized his previously stated gratitude to wife Morgane.

In addition to Starting Over, 2021's CMA Album of the Year nominees were Carly Peare's 29, Morgan Wallen's Dangerous: The Double Album, Eric Church's Heart and Brothers Osborne's Skeletons. 

Previously, Stapleton won both Single and Song of the Year for his song "Starting Over."

Conversation heading into the 2021 CMAs focused not on the musicality of the five nominees, but whether or not Morgan Wallen's top-selling album should win or even be nominated after he was filmed using a racist slur in January. The CMA chose to ban him from attending Wednesday's event, but had his album won, his team would have been allowed to accept at the podium. The audience let out a roar when his project was announced as a nominee, but few would argue Stapleton's project isn't just as worthy.

The Country Music Association held the 2021 CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. The show, hosted for the first time by Luke Bryan, returned to the venue — its home since 2006 — after one year at Music City Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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