The “Year of the Lady” continued in country music with Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum cleaning up in Las Vegas Monday at the first-ever American Country Awards.
Like she did at the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, Underwood took home the biggest award of the night, claiming Artist of the Year, as well as Album of the Year, Female Single of the Year, Touring Headline Package of the Year and Female Music Video of the Year. Crossover stars Lady Antebellum, meanwhile, took home Group of the Year honors, as well as Group Video of the Year, Group Single of the Year.
“Don’t be surprised if we don’t show up next year, because we want to go out on top,” Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott joked after the show.
The awards show was based solely on fan voting – something old hat for Underwood, 27, considering her rise to stardom on American Idol. “My whole career has been fan voted, pretty much,” she said.
Other artists embraced the concept.
“I railed for years, when I had the energy, against the machine. You got 1,500 people voting and they all have agendas,” said Toby Keith, 49, winner of the Video Visionary of the Year Award. “If you’ve had the biggest year, ticket sales, album sales, radio play and you get shut out at award shows because of agenda stuff, then the fans are like, we don’t understand and it takes credibility away from the organization.”
In a clear attempt to become a vibrant awards show, performers included several up-and-comers – Easton Corbin, Josh Turner, and Steel Magnolia – and winners were given Fender guitars as awards.
Blake Shelton took home two awards for his Hillbilly Bone video. Other winners included Corbin (Breakthrough Artist of the Year), Turner (Male Single of the Year), Alan Jackson (Greatest Hits Award) and Rascal Flatts (Decade Award).