Carrie Underwood continued her ascent to country music superstardom by winning three awards at the 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards last night (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.”
Brooks & Dunn won their 14th top vocal duo award as well as the Home Depot Humanitarian Award. 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, took home three: 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 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart 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,” which recently spent three weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs.
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 the 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, took home top vocal group honors. Rodney Atkins, who has spent eight weeks atop the country airplay chart with his last two singles, won top new male vocalist. “It kinda makes it all seem real — all of a sudden we’re actually here,” Atkins said backstage. “You feel fortunate that you were chasing something that wasn’t in vain.”
Top new duo or group went to Little Big Town, while Miranda Lambert won top new female honors. “I’ve worked really hard and it shows me that people are paying attention,” Lambert said backstage.
Shania Twain introduced host Reba McEntire, who later sang “Because of You” with Kelly Clarkson, the first single from her forthcoming “Duets” album. The song was a hit for Clarkson in 2005.
Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield in Los Angeles.