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Taylor Swift, The Band Perry, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton were among the evening's big winners at the 45th Annual Country Music Association Awards, held Wednesday (Nov. 9) in Nashville.
Taylor won the big prize, Entertainer of the Year, The Band Perry scored two awards, while Jason Aldean won his first two CMA awards. Blake repeated his title as Male Vocalist of the Year and wife Miranda Lambert repeated as Female Vocalist.
Taylor was quick to thank the fans and fellow artists who joined her on the sold-out Speak Now 2011 World tour. “Thanks to all the fans who filled up those arenas and stadiums all over the world this year. One of my favorite things about this year is the camaraderie among these artists who . . . came out and performed for the fans at my shows,” she said, before listing each of the artists, including Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Justin Bieber and Usher, among others.
The Band Perry took home the first trophy of the televised portion of the evening, winning Single of the Year for “If I Die Young.” Kimberly Perry went on to win Song of the Year, also for “If I Die Young,” and the trio was named Best New Artist. “I think it would have been written even without me, but I'm glad that I had the pen and paper in hand when it came to Earth,” Kimberly said when accepting the Song of the Year award. They performed “All My Life” during the broadcast, with Kimberly looking particularly glamorous in a sequined red dress.
Jason Aldean, a multiple nominee, took home his first two CMA awards: Album of the Year for My Kinda Party, along with the Musical Event trophy for his duet with Kelly Clarkson, “Don't You Wanna Stay.”
Sugarland took home its fifth Vocal Duo of the Year trophy, and later performed “Run” with Matt Nathanson. The duo's Jennifer Nettles says the accolades never get old. “You can't expect anything in this business,” she said. “If you do you are setting yourself up.” LeAnn Rimes and Billy Currington presented the Vocal Group of the Year trophy to Lady Antebellum.
Performance highlights included Blake Shelton and Kenny Loggins' show-opening performance of "Footloose," co-host Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood's bit with Hank Williams Jr. addressing his recent debacle with ESPN and Monday Night Football and a Vince Gill, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley-led tribute to Glen Campbell, who recently revealed he has Alzheimer's disease. “Growing up across the world, Glen Campbell taught me what country music was,” Aussie Keith, who performed “Wichita Lineman,” said. “He faced Alzheimer’s with amazing grace. God Bless Glen Campbell,” said Brad, who sang Glen's "Galveston."
This was a year of pop star crossover duets. Four-time Entertainer of the Year winner Kenny Chesney sang a stripped-down acoustic version of “You and Tequila” with Grace Potter, and picked up the Music Video of the Year trophy for the video.
Rascal Flatts performed the dramatic power ballad “Easy” with Natasha Bedingfield. Zac Brown Band welcomed Gregg Allman to the stage for a performance of “Georgia.” Later, Lionel Richie performed “Deep River Woman” with Little Big Town and “Stuck on You” with Darius Rucker, while cameras flashed to Tim McGraw, who sang along while watching the performance from the audience. Rascal Flatts closed the set by performing "Dancing on the Ceiling" with Lionel.
It seemed no pop culture icon was safe from Brad and Carrie's hijinks—the hosting duo brought out Little “Jimmy Bieber” (Little Jimmy Dickens dressed as teen heartthrob Justin Bieber). “This scandal has really aged you,” Brad said, referring to Justin recently being accused of fathering a child. “Just last week you didn't have a single wrinkle or age spot,” said Brad.
“What's your new single?” asked Carrie.
“It's called 'It Ain't My Baby, Baby,'” replied Little Jimmy.
During one of the night's most anticipated moments, Faith Hill performed her new single, “Come Home.” It was her first appearance on the CMA Awards in several years.
Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry were clearly darlings of the evening. “The CMAs are the Super Bowl to us,” said Kimberly. “We feel like we took home Super Bowl rings tonight.”