Taylor Swift opened the show with a winning performance – but the 19-year-old singer had to wait until the end of the Country Music Assocation Awards telecast Wednesday night to collect the biggest honor: entertainer of the year.
Sobbing as she took the stage of Nashville’s Sommet Center, Swift – the youngest-ever winner of the CMA’s top trophy – called her band to join her onstage. “I will never forget this moment because in this moment everything I have ever wanted has just happened to me,” she said.
It was a monumental night for Swift, who took home four awards in total, including album of the year for her smash hit Fearless and, in an upset, female vocalist of the year, beating out the night’s co-host, Carrie Underwood.
Three Time Winners
While Underwood was shut out this year, her co-host Brad Paisley had a good night. The singer was named male vocalist of the year for the third year in a row, while Sugarland was awarded vocal duo of the year for the third year running as well.
Lady Antebellum was another early winner. The group’s “I Run to You” was named single of the year, and the trio picked up vocal group of the year, effectively ending competitor Rascal Flatts’ six-year winning streak in that category. A gracious Charles Kelley paid tribute to the band in his acceptance speech: “Rascal Flatts you’ve inspired us for such a long time,” he said.
Darius Rucker got a warm welcome from the country community – the crossover artist won new artist of the year, an honor that last year went to Lady Antebellum. After a long list of acknowledgments, he recognized his audience: “To the fans, thank ya’ll for accepting me.”
Taylor’s Big Number
It was a performance-heavy telecast, with rock stars like Dave Matthews and Kid Rock teaming up with Kenny Chesney and Jamey Johnson. Swift launched the evening with a spirited rendition of “Forever and Always,” about stormy relationships. The performance seemed to nod to the feverish attention paid to her dating life – she has been linked to Joe Jonas and, most recently, Taylor Lautner – and began with a taped interview between the 19-year-old singer and Access Hollywood‘s Nancy O’Dell.
“If guys don’t want me to write bad songs about them, then they shouldn’t do bad things,” Swift remarked in the taped segment, before the action cut away to the stage, where she threw furniture, slid down a pole and tossed her hair wildly.
Helming the three-hour telecast, Underwood and Paisley brought a sense of humor to the proceedings, poking fun at Kanye West (several times) through song and ribbing each other throughout the show.
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