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Eric Church wins Album of the Year at CMA Awards

Luke Bryan in a rare instance without his baseball cap. Photo: Getty Images

Luke Bryan in a rare instance without his baseball cap. Photo: Getty Images

The awards are still trickling out, but Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, who is due in the next couple of weeks, and Kristian Bush presented Album of the Year honors to Eric Church for his “Chief.”

“I spent a lot of my career wondering where I fit it…,” Church said. “Thank you for giving me somewhere to hang my hat tonight.”

Taylor Swift made an early show appearance to sing her new single, the ballad “Begin Again.” Wearing a girlish red dress and flitting around a set decorated as a Parisian sidewalk café, Swift brought one of the stronger vocal performance of the night.

Yes, for real.

Hunter Hayes' yearbook photo. Getty Images

Hunter Hayes' yearbook photo. Getty Images

Luke Bryan’s “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” which he sang in his usual uniform of tight black jeans and a baseball cap, caroused the stage enthusiastically, but new kid Hunter Hayes, who performed his hit “Wanted” seated at a grand piano in the middle of the audience, was the definition of a warbly vocalist, while the usually reliable Faith Hill strained more than soared on “American Heart.”

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