Carrie Underwood continues to be one of the biggest stories in country music by winning three awards at the 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, held tonight (May 15) in Las Vegas.

Underwood took home top female honors, album of the year for "Some Hearts" and video of the year for "Before He Cheats." "It's absolutely amazing, I was so excited," the American Idol alum told reporters. "It's a great night. I feel blessed."

Brooks & Dunn won its 14th top vocal duo award as well as the Home Depot Humanitarian Award. "Any country act can win that award any year," Brooks said of country's reputation for giving.

The duo also won the vocal collaboration award for "Building Bridges," with Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow. They were honored both as singers and producers on the song.

Meanwhile, George Strait, who came into the show with eight nominations, picked up three awards: song and single of the year for "Give It Away" and a producing credit in the single category. The song, which was written by Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon and Jamey Johnson, spent two weeks at No. 1 last fall.

"Let me just say how much this means to me personally-I'm old enough to be Carrie Underwood's grandfather," the 69-year-old legend Anderson said in accepting the song award.

Kenny Chesney won his third straight entertainer of the year award, putting him in the company of Alabama, Garth Brooks and Hank Williams Jr. "It feels good, Chesney laughed backstage. "All three of those artists were a big influence on me."

Chesney opened the show with "Beer In Mexico," the song which recently spent three weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

In a category that included Chesney, Toby Keith, Keith Urban and Strait, Brad Paisley was a surprise winner as top male vocalist. Thanking his fans, Paisley told a sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, "I sing a song about two people who drink themselves to death, you buy it. I sing a song about nasty bugs, you buy it," he said, referring to his singles "Whiskey Lullaby" and "Ticks," respectively.

Rascal Flatts, who were up for six awards, not surprisingly took home top vocal group honors. The band has sold four million copies of its "Me and My Gang" album, which was released a year ago.

Rodney Atkins, who has spent eight weeks atop the airplay chart, with his last two singles, took home the top new male vocalist award. "It kinda makes it all seem real, all of a sudden we're actually here," Atkins told reporters backstage. "You feel fortunate that you were chasing something that wasn't in vain."

Top new duo or group went to Little Big Town, who have sold 996,000 units of their album "The Road To Here," according to Nielsen SoundScan, and scored two top 10 singles in 2006.

Miranda Lambert, who recently debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums and at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 with her second album, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," took home top new female honors. "I've worked really hard and it shows me that people are paying attention," Lambert said backstage when asked about her Billboard debut and the award.

Shania Twain introduced host Reba McEntire, who later sang the first single, "Because Of You," from her forthcoming "Duets" album with Kelly Clarkson. The song was a hit for Clarkson in 2005.

Twain was also on hand to present the entertainer of the year award.

CBS brought a number of its stars to the show, including Hannah Storm ("The Early Show"), Michelle Stafford ("The Young and the Restless"), as well as Eric Szmanda and Gary Dourdan ("CSI"). Actress Emma Roberts and actor Luke Wilson were also on hand.


--additional reporting by Keith Caulfield in Los Angeles