This was clearly Taylor Swift’s night at the Country Music Awards. She was not only the youngest person to ever win Entertainer of the Year at age 19 but she was the first female solo artist to take home the award since Shania Twain in 1999.
“Everything I”ve ever wanted just happened to me,” a teary-eyed Swift said.
Among Georgians, Sugarland and Lady Antebellum’s (above) were winners.
Lady Antebellum, which features two UGA grads and Augustans, took home Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year, beating out the likes of North Georgia’s the Zac Brown Band, Little Big Town (which includes a Georgian), Rascal Flatts and the Eagles.
Atlanta’s own Sugarland also won vocal duo of the year for the third year in a row.
The first Georgia reference came during a parody version of Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” in which co-hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Praisley duet. It was about Brooks & Dunn’s planned breakup. The pair won the best duo CMA award 14 times. Thus, the punchline: “Kix and little Ronnie will be going away,” Carrie sang. Brad added: “Everyone is sad… except for Sugarland.”
Sugarland later performed their latest single, a lovely ballad called “Keep You,” which has yet to chart. Both wore black. Jennifer Nettles hit her high notes perfectly.
After gently mocking Tim McGraw’s fragrance (yes, there is one for sale), Paisley introduced the first presenter of the night Kid Rock: “It’s a pungent yet fragrant blend of whiskey and Waffle House.” (Yes, that infamous 2007 Waffle House scuffle won’t go away, will it?)
Single of the year featured three acts with Georgia ties: the Zac Brown Band (”Chicken Fried”), Lady Antebellum (”I Run To You”) and Billy Currington (”People are Crazy”). Lady Antebellum, which features two UGA grads Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, won best new act last year and are clearly Nashville favorites.
Song of the year (which is a songwriter’s award) also featured two Georgians: Billy Currington and Zac Brown again. Jamey Johnson won with “In Color.”
Sugarland lost album of the year to Taylor Swift.
I wasn’t much of a fan of Hootie & the Blowfish and had a miserable interview with Darius Rucker a few years back but I got to give props for the great country songs he’s had this past year, landing him three No. 1 hits including the jaunty “Alright.” It’s also always great to see a black person at the CMAs. Amusingly, he won “new artist of the year,” despite the fact he’s been around in the pop-rock world for years. He’s new, of course, to country.
“Wow, what a year!” Rucker said at the dais. “To the fans, thank you for accepting me. I think most importantly to coutnry radio. You took a chance on a pop singer from Charleston, S.C. and God bless you for that!”
Rucker beat, among others, the Zac Brown Band, who at least got to perform. They decided to cover the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” instead of one of their own hits. While it was fun and showed why they’re such a great live band, why waste a chance to promote yourself to a national audience with a cover song?
There was the inevitable Taylor Swift/Kanye West joke. Brad fake accepted an award for best video and Little Jimmy Dickens (an old-time country singer who has been a foil in Paisley’s videos) came out and said Taylor Swift’s videos are better. Kind of lame, kind of funny. Later, when Swift won for Female Vocalist of the Year, she thanked everyone for not running up on stage.
Jason Aldean of Macon wasn’t nominated for anything but he did get to perform his recent No. 1 song “Big Green Tractor,” his third chart topper. He’s not exactly a showstopping stage presence. ]
A few minutes later, Billy Currington from Rincon, Ga. played a live version of “People are Crazy,” which was also his third No.1 hit. The song was nominated (and lost) for single of the year, song of the year and video of the year.