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The 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards started with a bang and pretty much never let up all night long.
The group with the most Academy of Country Music Award nominations, Lady Antebellum, came away with the most awards for the night with five. The rapidly rising group won Single and Song of the Year for "Need You Now" and Top Vocal Group. (As producers on the Single and as composers on Song of the Year, they picked up two additional awards.) "We are having a blast tonight," Charles Kelley said from the stage. "We will never forget this night."
"We didn't quite know what he had," Charles admitted backstage of "Need You Now." "It just keeps getting better."
Not to be outdone, Carrie Underwood took home the Entertainer of the Year, making her the only female to win the award not only twice, but also in consecutive years in the 40 years of that award's history. She also became only the sixth artist in history to win the ACM's Triple Crown Award, which is given to artist that have won a Top New Artist Award, a Top Vocalist Award and Entertainer of the Year. "There’s so many people to thank, and it starts with the fans," a tearful Carrie said in accepting the trophy.
Miranda Lambert won two awards on the night: Top Album and Top Female Vocalist. She was emotional backstage. "This is life changing," she said, her voice breaking. "I never cry." She also won an award for Top Video for "White Liar" the night before the show. "We really were having fun [on the set]," she says of the video. "I got to kiss a hot model. That doesn't suck."
Carrie and Miranda opened the night dueting on Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Traveling Band" and were joined on stage by none other than CCR's John Fogerty.How do you trump that? Add Brad Paisley's stellar guitar work and Charlie Daniels' smokin' fiddle. "That is how you start a television show, son!" Charlie told the crowd.
A drenched Brad, who had just fallen in a pool of water to close out his performance of "Water," later accepted the Top Male Vocalist Award while joking with presenter Matthew McConaughey. "Can I borrow your shirt," Brad asked. "You're not used to wearing one." It was Brad's fourth straight win, which sets the record in the category.
Brooks & Dunn are going out on top—Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn picked up the Top Vocal Duo Award at their final ACM show as a duo. It was their 16th win in the category.
A visibly excited Luke Bryan won the fan voted Top New Artist Award. "Thank you, fans! It is impossible for a human to shake more than I am right now," Luke says in accepting the award.
"The past four years have been a slow ride, but even if it took 10 years, it would have been worth it," Luke told reporters backstage. "It’s the greatest night ever professionally for me."
Montgomery Gentry also came away winners, albeit not for their music. "This is a very humbling moment," a choked up Troy Gentry tells the crowd in accepting the ACM Humanitarian of the Year award. "This is the greatest country in the world," a tearful Eddie Montgomery adds.
"It comes down from our parents," Eddie told reporters backstage.
A very subdued Toby Keith came back to talk to reporters after his performance of "Cryin' For Me," which he wrote after the death of his friend Wayman Tisdale, a former NBA player and jazz musician. "It was a month before I could get through it and sing it," he said of the song he wrote for Wayman's funeral but couldn't bring himself to sing.
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins won Top Vocal Event for "Hillbilly Bone."