Carrie Underwood takes big ACM prize
"American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood became the seventh female to win the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year award Sunday (4/5), ending Kenny Chesney's four-year reign.
"I've had a lot of good moments in the past four years. This one takes the cake," the tearful Underwood said. "Thank you God, thank you fans, thank you to ACM for nominating me in the first place. I never thought I'd be nominated and never thought I'd win. I'm shaking. I don't know what to say."
Underwood is the first female act to win since the Dixie Chicks did so in 2000.
In addition to claiming Entertainer of the Year, Underwood--who performed an impeccable version of Randy Travis' 1980s hit "I Told You So"--also won her third straight female vocalist award.
"Thanks to my band, too, for going in on an off day and producing an off record," he said facetiously during a brief acceptance speech.
During the rest of the ceremony--which aired live on CBS from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas--the veterans were the top prize winners.
Paisley--who was beamed to the show via video from his home in Nashville where his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, is expecting a baby--was honored three times. He won his third straight male vocalist crown, as well as Video of the Year for "Waitin' on a Woman" and Vocal Event of the Year for "Start a Band," a duet with Keith Urban.
"I really want to thank you for this," Paisley said. "I wish I could be there, but I didn't want to take the chance of missing the birth of our next child."
For the seventh year in a row, Rascal Flatts brought home Top Vocal Group.
"What an amazing ride," bassist Jay DeMarcus said. "Now I know how Brooks and Dunn feel."
Taylor Swiftâ€"who appeared via the magic of David Copperfield--performed her ballad "You're Not Sorry" at the piano, after which host Reba McEntire motioned for Swift and said, "That was a great job, Taylor, but you're not through yet." McEntire then presented Swift with the ACM Crystal Milestone Award for introducing kids to country music.
"Are you serious?" a tearful Swift said to McEntire before hugging her. "Thank you so much. I didn't know this was going to happen actually. ... To my beautiful fans, to you guys who come to my shows: I have absolutely fallen in love with you and will never forget you, ever."
Sugarland broke Brooks and Dunn's 15-year winning streak for Top Vocal Group.
"Thank you for dreaming back every time we dream," said Sugarland's Kristian Bush.
"Dancing with the Stars" champ Julianne Hough was honored with Best New Artist and did her best to hold back her tears as she walked to the podium.
"Well, it's a good thing my dress ripped, because now I have something else to think about," Hough said to a sea of laughter.
The three-hour show was heavy on performances, and kicked off with a slew of country superstars performing a medley, anchored by Brooks and Dunn's "Play Something Country." The segment also included Taylor Swift performing "Picture to Burn," Sugarland's "It Happens," Carrie Underwood's "All American Girl" and finally Rascal Flatts' "Me and My Gang."
"Now that's what I call a stimulus package," said McEntire, who was hosting the event for the 11th time.
Other acts on the bill included a nasally Heidi Newfield singing the ACM-nominated "Johnny and June" in the middle of an apropos ring of fire. John Rich served up the bitter and anthemic "Shuttin' Detroit Down."
"I'd like to dedicate this song tonight to all the hard-working, tax-paying Americans from coast to coast who love this country as much as I do," Rich said to the crowd. "We wrote this song specifically for you."
Also among the performers were Lee Ann Womack, who played her woeful "Solitary Thinking," and Keith Urban, who performed the pop-inspired "Kiss a Girl" while wife Nicole Kidman bobbed her head.
Entertainer of the Year
Album of the Year
"Fearless," Taylor Swift (Big Machine); produced by Scott Borchetta, Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift
Top Male Vocalist
Top Female Vocalist
Top Vocal Group
Top Vocal Duo
Top New Male Vocalist
Top New Female Vocalist
Top New Vocal Duo or Group
Zac Brown Band
Single Record of the Year
"You're Gonna Miss This"; Trace Adkins; produced by Frank Rogers; Capitol Nashville
Song of the Year
"In Color," Jamey Johnson; Composers: Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller, James Otto;
Publishers: Big Gassed Hitties (BMI), Eldorotto Music Publishing (BMI), EMI Blackwood Music, Inc., Lucky Thumb Music (BMI), New Song of Sea Gayle (BMI), Noah's Little Boat Music (BMI).
Video of the Year
"Waitin' On A Woman": Brad Paisley; producer: Mark Kalbfeld, Jim Shea; director: Jim Shea, Peter Tilden
Vocal Event of the Year
"Start A Band": Brad Paisley duet with Keith Urban; produced by: Frank Rogers; Arista Nashville
Home Depot Humanitarian Award