It was fitting that Brooks & Dunn hosted the 40th Annual Country Music Assn. Awards and performed the show's opening number, "Building Bridges," because with four awards between the duo, the show was all about them.

Their inspirational "Believe" won song, single and video of the year honors. Producers Tony Brown, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn shared the single award, while Craig Wiseman and Dunn, who co-wrote the song, won song of the year honors. "Every time it comes on the radio now I have to pull [the car] over, like I'm hearing it for the first time," Wiseman told reporters backstage. "Ronnie really brought something to that song that's something beyond."

Brooks & Dunn and video directors Robert Deaton and George J. Flanigen IV nabbed trophies for the song's video. As if that weren't enough, the pair picked up their fourteenth vocal duo of the year award.

On the strength of three No. 1 singles, including the current chart-topper, "Before He Cheats," 2005 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood was the surprise winner of the female vocalist of the year award, beating out superstars Martina McBride and Faith Hill, among others. "This has all been such a surreal journey," she told reporters backstage. Early in the evening, Underwood won the Horizon award, which was not completely unexpected.

Keith Urban, who was not at the awards, won his third straight male vocalist of the year award, which was greeted with a standing ovation. Co-host Ronnie Dunn read a letter of thanks from Urban, who recently announced he was entering rehab. "I'm looking forward to coming home soon and seeing all of you," Urban wrote in the letter.

Meanwhile, Kenny Chesney won his second entertainer of the year award. "This year has been the most emotionally satisfying and also the most emotionally draining of my life," Chesney said backstage.

Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton's win for musical event of the year represented a sweep for the pair. "When I Get Where I'm Going" brought them the same honor at last spring's Academy of Country Music Awards. "Any time Dolly Parton sings on a song it becomes instantly better in every way," Paisley said in accepting the award.

Paisley also won album of the year for "Time Well Wasted," which was co-produced by Chris DuBois and Frank Rogers.

Vocal group Rascal Flatts picked up their fourth straight vocal group of the year award on the strength of their "Me and My Gang" album and a top selling tour.

Superstar George Strait was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, as were noted session guitarist Harold Bradley and artist Sonny James. "Who would have thought it?" Strait said in accepting the honor. "Don't think I don't realize why I'm here," he told his cheering fans.

Veteran instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Randy Scruggs picked up his third musician of the year award. "I've loved music from the first moment I can remember," Scruggs, the son of the legendary Earl Scruggs, said. "We started playing music because we loved it."