The 43rd annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards were handed out Novermber 11 in Nashville.
Brad Paisley co-hosted the 43rd annual Country Music Association Awards with Carrie Underwood, and was this year's top contender with seven nominations. For the third year in-a-row, Brad was named the CMA's Male Vocalist of the Year. He also shared the Musical Event of the Year trophy with Keith Urban for their duet, "Start A Band."
First-time CMA award nominees included The Zac Brown Band, Jamey Johnson and Darius Rucker, formerly lead singer for the pop group, Hootie And The Blowfish. Darius was named New Artist of the Year. He is the first artist to have three Number One Country singles from a debut album since Wynonna Judd in 1992. Darius gave special thanks to his family, fans and Country radio.
"Wow, what a year!," Rucker said. "I've got to start by saying, first of all, thank you to my wife and my three kids who sacrifice everyday because I've got to be on the road everyday working my butt off, and making this work. And I've got to tell you, first of all to the fans, thank you all for accepting me. (cheering) And, I think most importantly, most importantly, to Country radio, you took a chance on a pop singer from Charleston, South Carolina, and God bless you all for that! Thank you so much!"
Lady Antebellum beat out Brad Paisley, Billy Currington, Jamey Johnson and The Zac Brown Band in the Single of the Year category. The trio won the award for its first Number One Country hit, "I Run To You."
One of the night's biggest upsets was Lady Antebellum's win for Vocal Group of the Year. Rascal Flatts has won that category for the past six years. While accepting the award, Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley recognized the other Vocal Group nominees for their inspiration.
"Thank you so much," Kelly said. "Rascal Flatts, you've inspired us for such a long time. The Eagles, my gosh! Zac Brown's had the biggest year of all of us. Thank you so much for just letting us be up here, and feel a part of the community, the Country music industry. You guys have all been so supportive of us."
"And to the fans, thank you all so much," added Hagglewood. "To the fans, thank you!"
Other winners included Sugarland, named Duo of the Year for the third year in-a-row, and Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller and James Otto, who repeated their 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards Song of the Year win for composing Jamey's Top 10 single, "In Color." Jamey joked to the audience about being a part of the Country Music Association's prestigious event.
"I never thought you all would even let me come to stuff like this," Johnson said. "Thanks again, you all. This has been an unbelievable experience. Thank you for listening to my music, and letting me do what I do. God bless you."
Performances by many of Country music's biggest names dominated the live, three-hour telecast. They included Vince Gill's duet with rock band Daughtry; Kenny Chesney paired with Dave Matthews; and Tim McGraw's first appearance at the CMA Awards in four years.
Taylor Swift was the night's big winner. The 19-year-old superstar won the Album of the Year award for "Fearless", and was named Female Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. She's the youngest performer to ever be nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category. In accepting the award, Taylor explained what the honor meant to her.
"I will never forget this moment, because in this moment, everything that I have ever wanted has just happened to me. Thank you for this moment. Thank you!" Swift said.
Taylor also won the Music Video of the Year award for her recent Number One Country hit, "Love Story."