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Published: Monday, 4/19/2010

Underwood, Paisley make a splash; Lady Antebellum, Lambert dominate at Country Music Awards

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAS VEGAS - Carrie Underwood made history at the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night, becoming the first woman to win entertainer of the year twice.

Underwood, who will be in Toledo Saturday, won the show's top honor last year. This year, she beat out Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban.

"I think I just got makeup all over Brad Paisley," an excited Underwood said as she went onstage to accept her trophy. "Thank you, God, praise the Lord."

Underwood also was recognized earlier in the evening with a special trophy for the "triple crown" of ACM wins - entertainer of the year, top female vocalist, and top newcomer - in the course of her career.

Top-selling trio Lady Antebellum were the dominant winners at the Academy of Country Music Awards yesterday, grabbing five trophies, including song and single record of the year for crossover hit "Need You Now," while also snapping Rascal Flatts' seven-year run as best vocal group.

"We are having a blast tonight," singer Charles Kelley told the crowd after win No. 4. "We love you all. We will never forget this night."

Lady A came into the awards ceremony at the MGM Grand with a leading seven nominations and had won five of seven possible. They got two trophies for their single record of the year win because they also produced the record, and also got two trophies for their song of the year win because they composed "Need You Now."

Best bud Miranda Lambert beat their self-titled debut for album of the year with "Revolution." Lambert, whose "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" won album of the year in 2007, also beat them in the video category with "White Liar" in awards given out Saturday night.

Lambert didn't get to say much about her win. She started to address the crowd, then stopped short to make sure producer Frank Liddell got a moment in the spotlight. But as soon as he started to issue thank yous, he was cut off and the camera panned away, eliciting boos from the crowd.

After a commercial break, she came back on stage to perform her latest single, "The House That Built Me."

Lady A could also celebrate the win of one of the night's other winners, Luke Bryan, who nabbed top new artist and top new solo vocalist. Lady A's Kelly and Dave Haywood wrote his hit, "Do I."

Paisley, after a performance of his single "Water" where he fell backward into a pool of water on stage, won top male vocalist of the year for the fourth consecutive time.

And Brooks & Dunn, who are retiring after a summer tour, won best vocal duo for the 10th time in their two-decade long career.

"We are currently in therapy with Brett Favre trying to figure out how to waffle on this," Kix Brooks joked after the win.

The show, held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, kicked off with Underwood and Lambert, joined on stage later by Paisley, Charlie Daniels and John Fogerty, who ripped through a rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Travelin' Band."

"That's how you start a television show, son!" Daniels, who recently recovered from a stroke, shouted.

The show was heavy on performances, including those by Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift, who performed her song "Change" backed by a choir.

Toby Keith hit an emotional note with a performance of "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song)," dedicated to his late friend, jazz artist and former basketball star Wayman Tisdale, who died last May.

The show also had its share of noncountry celebrities, including LL Cool J, Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, and Las Vegas staple Cher, who goofed when she announced that Blake Shelton had already won a CMA Award - instead of an ACM - the previous evening.

Shelton was awarded for vocal event of the year for his performance of "Hillbilly Bone" with Trace Adkins.

Other early award winners included Joey + Rory for top new vocal duo and Gloriana for top new vocal group.

Though Lady A was the top nominated act, Underwood made history by winning two entertainer of the year awards in her career; She won the coveted award last year.

In the fan fan-voted award she beat out Swift, the 20-year-old sensation who helped bring country music to a huge mainstream audience, making her one of pop music's biggest stars.

Men have long dominated the award. But ACM host Reba McEntire says while most of yesterday's awards are still voted on by members of the music industry, technology may give Underwood and Swift an advantage over the guys.

Underwood, who shut down juggernaut Chesney's four-year reign as ACM entertainer of the year in 2009, says early she hadn't yet cleared space on her mantle for another entertainer trophy.

Underwood had plenty of reason to be confident, though. Nothing much has changed since she won last April. Her latest album, "Play On," was one of 2009's top albums, she recently earned her 12th straight country No. 1 with "Temporary Home" and she's ramped up the fireworks on her latest tour.

The "American Idol" winner clearly meets the all-around definition of entertainer of the year.

Swift is one of the few country acts to rival her success, though. "Fearless" was last year's best-selling album and it won her dozens of awards; her most recent big win was her four Grammys in February, including album of the year.



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