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CMA Awards give Lady Antebellum, Sugarland plenty of love; Zac Brown shut out


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.

83 comments Add your comment


November 11th, 2009
11:49 pm

Taylor Swift winning a vocalist award is a disgrace and an absolute joke. I will never watch the CMA’S again!


November 12th, 2009
12:01 am

The CMA’s have obviously become an avenue to promote entertainers which the promoters feel can make them the most money on a go forward basis instead of an award for actual accomplishments. Anyone who truly believes that Taylor Swift was the proper choice for Female Vocalist (she was easily the weakest vocalist of all the nominees) and Entertainer of the Year obviously has no knowledge of the other nominees. I do believe Taylor is a very talented young lady but to advance her career by giving her undeserved awards is unfair to the other nominees and her !!


November 12th, 2009
12:06 am

for someone to say they will never watch the cma’s again because taylor swift won a vocalis award is childish and stupid, she is not really one of my favorites either but she has a beautiful voice and deserves all she won.


November 12th, 2009
12:13 am

You should note that Zac Brown Band has at least one UGA grad, too. John Hopkins, the band’s bassist, was a student in Athens from 89 to 92 and was in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity there. I believe others in the band have associations with UGA as well. Sorry to see them get left out of the awards, but it won’t be long before they are up on stage accepting their own.


November 12th, 2009
12:14 am

I really enjoyed the show but have to agree that even though Taylor is so gifted she is not the strongest in vocals.Carrie Underwood was extremely hot in her little outfit.I really have become a fan of country music and give kudos to the artists for a gret performance.Carrie is still on my favourite list.


November 12th, 2009
12:38 am

CMA’s were a joke this year. You actually need to be able to sing to be Female Vocalist. By far, Taylor Swift is the weakest vocalist in the female category. Can’t carry a tune in a bucket. It’s amazing what you can do in the studio this day and age. Her biggest studio expense is the sound engineer that runs her vocals through the auto tuner. Amazing. Entertainer of the Year should go to the artist that sells the most concert tickets. Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith both sold over 1 million tickets. Not a huge fan of either, but both deserved the award over Taylor Swift. CMA’s credibility is going down the tubes.

Piso Mojado

November 12th, 2009
12:54 am

I’m more of a classic country fan. As for the CMA awards show, my wife and I have concluded that Carrie Underwood looked like a ho in her “hot little outfit”. 4-inch high heels at the CMA awards? I thought I was watching an MTV performance.

Country music used to be so far above this kind of garbage.


November 12th, 2009
1:47 am

Bob nailed it. Nothing left to say.


November 12th, 2009
3:46 am

To those of you who are bashing Taylor Swift’s wins tonight, a few things in mind. Swift has been the biggest pop and country star of the past 2 years. her debut album has stayed on the Billboard chart for more than 3 years, a 21st century record. Her album Fearless has topped the Billboard charts for 11 weeks. She sold more records than anyone last year and is on the track to do the same this year. if you SAW her perform tonight, especially her “Fifteen” performance, you would see she has an amazing, authentic connection to her audience.


November 12th, 2009
6:30 am

I buy Taylor’s CDs for my daughters and I did watch her performances last night and her song to start off the night – which had my ears bleeding. It was a horrible vocal! I have always said she can’t sing live – can’t stand to hear her sing live – on ANY show I have watched live, but I do love what they do for her in the editing room for her CDs. However, she did not deserve Female or EOTY – no WAY.


November 12th, 2009
6:31 am

Taylor Swift is a talented songwriter and performer (note I did not say singer). Her music is NOT country, but neither is Lady Antebellum’s or Darius Rucker’s. If this is the future of “country” music, perhaps it is time for real country music to break away.

[...] AJC Radio/TV blogger Rodney Ho gave us the rundown on last night’s 43rd CMA country music awards show. [...]

Tech sucks

November 12th, 2009
8:16 am

The Zac Brown Band already has 3 straight number 1 hits. I’m pretty sure everyone knows what their songs sound like.

That cover they did of Devil was AMAZING. They brought the roof down, and got a standing ovation.

They chose the right song.

Tech sucks

November 12th, 2009
8:17 am

boots they all have Athens ties. Jimmy DeMartini lived there for years and was in his first band there that played at the GA Theater back in the day.


November 12th, 2009
8:31 am

I generally like the CMA’s but is it just me, I don’t think Taylor Swift can carry a tune. Her voice is awful and she won so many awards. What’s going on? The other singers in her categories could out sing miss Swift with no effort at all. What the heck is happening to country music. It seems like it’s more about the fluff and to heck with talent.


November 12th, 2009
8:55 am

Zack went to West Georgia, his band used to be “Far From Einstein”


November 12th, 2009
8:56 am

I am amazed at the Taylor Swift backlash on this blog. She is a woderful singer, writes amazing songs, and put on one of the best concerts I have ever seen. As a mother I also enjoy the fact that she is a real positive role model for girls. Listening to her CD, watching her videos, and watching her live at a concert, prove to me she definately deserved to win all the awards she won last night. Go Taylor!

J. J.

November 12th, 2009
8:56 am

It is probably me, but Taylior does not sing well…what a joke of an artist.


November 12th, 2009
9:00 am

Add me to the list of people highly disappointed in the CMAs last night. They got a few awards right — Lady Antebellum with their two nods and Jamey Johnson for Song of the Year for “In Color,” which is one of the most amazing songs ever written and recorded for any genre of music. However, the fact that the CMAs had the audacity to give female vocalist to Taylor Swift and then to top it off with entertainer of the year was just a joke. As many people have already pointed out, she probably has the worst voice of any live performer out there. (Tossup between Taylor and Miley Cyrus, but seriously … last night’s awards went the way of the Disney Channel). And to the person who touted Taylor’s “amazing” connection with her audience last night? Those people were plants. The entire thing was staged.
Listen, I’m not denying the girl has talent. She’s a heck of a songwriter and musician, but she’s no female vocalist of the year and the last person I’d pick for Entertainer of the Year. Brad Paisley deserved it. Keith Urban deserved it. Kenny Chesney deserved it. Taylor Swift did not.


November 12th, 2009
9:07 am

What do Taylor Swift and Obama have in common?……… They both won awards they didn’t deserve!! What a joke!


November 12th, 2009
9:19 am

The CMAs were actually really good up until the last two awards were given out. Taylor Swift deserved her award for album of the year. Even though her album sales are bloated because of her exposure on pop radio – where 98% of her fan base is from – to have an album listed as country and sell as much, there was no one else who deserved the award except to say maybe Brad Paisley. The video award – which should not even be a category at the CMAs – fine, no hard in that one. She is a great song writer (who needs to pick a different topic btw), but she is not a good vocalist. For her to win that award over Carrie and Martina, who are some of the industry’s best in vocals, is a sad disgrace. Her ETOY award was also a joke. For someone who doesn’t headline their own tour yet somehow manages to get into a category with four talented individuals who have some of the top shows out there and then win is just dumbfounding.

These last two shockers are the reason why I don’t watch CMT (which should be called TSMT) anymore and basically ruined a very good show. And whomever it was above who said Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker don’t belong in country music needs to go buy their albums. Those two have pure country albums and Darius’ is a pleasant surprise given his history as a rocker.

Sad to see ZBB get shut out, but props to them for putting on a heck of performance with the Devil Went Down to Georgia.


November 12th, 2009
9:19 am

Taylor is a very talented individual and a good role model for the young, but considering who her competition was..they all outshine her in vocals and entertainment.

Can’t believe Zac Brown Band was shut out. By far the best performance of the night, how could they have not won anything. Their cd is awesome, throw an awesome concert and are good guys. Seriously.

I agree with old country is going away. Even though Jamey Johsnon looks a little odd, he’s a very talented guy who does have that old country feel – somewhere between Jennings & Jones. lol


November 12th, 2009
9:23 am

Also let me point out Taylor’s “audience” last night. Did anyone else notice that when she won those last two awards and her two performances that her fans were all giddy – as expected – but when anyone else won or performed that contingent was pretty quiet? Don’t sound like country fans to me – only Taylor Swift fans. Also didn’t see many of the other fans give a screaming applause when she won those last awards also.

Folks listen to the three country morning shows this morning. Many country fans are downright mad that those awards were given to her. Kicks is even surprised at the large backlash she is receiving this morning on their show. I thought I was in the minority on this last night, but it seems that I was wrong.


November 12th, 2009
9:25 am

I don’t know much about country music, but love Darius Rucker and was glad to see he won. Billy Currington’s performance was hard to watch – he seemed so nervous and had zero personality.


November 12th, 2009
9:28 am

As others said, add me to the list that thinks Taylor can’t sing..Yes, I will admit that she does write great songs and she may have the best live concerts, but she still can’t sing..

As for Carrie wearing 4 inch heels, most every female that has ever been on the awards has worn them..Rodney mentioned that all of The Zac Brown band had ties to Georgia..

Keith Urban isn’t my favorite, but others are right, he has more talent than Taylor (singing)..Of course, I think Alan Jackson, George Strait nd Toby Keith should be winning more..


November 12th, 2009
9:28 am

What do Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, George Straight, Zac Brown, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson all have in common? they ALL are better entertainers than Taylor Swift. The award ceremonies have become a joke and thats why I dont watch them anymore. Any artist who rules the pop charts should’nt be allowed to win a COUNTRY award. George Jones was right earlier this month in his statements. I hope this young lady enjoys the ride cause it all ends in about 4 to 5 years when her 13 and 14 year old crowd grows up. Don’t believe me? Ask Leanne Rimes

Philip Rhyne

November 12th, 2009
9:28 am

Taylor might be a good song writer but when are folks going to figure out that the girl cannot sing. To top Martina, Carrie, Reba & Taylor as Vocalist of the Year was a complete joke and honestly an insult to those other fine women who can actually sing!


November 12th, 2009
9:28 am

The next GA artist that should be promoted is Corey Smith (not exactly country) but it is his closest genre….If you really want to here a great artist google him!


November 12th, 2009
9:32 am

Okay Okay I have heare enought of “Taylor is a great role model” yada yada and although listening to her songs both vocally and content are enough to make me physically ill, we cant altogether blame her. Her music has its place on a shelf right next to childrens books for ages 5 to maybe 12. She has not business in country music and just goes to show the CMA does not care about its heritage whatsoever! My circle of friends are mostly die hard country fans but none of us listen to todays country music. Shame on the CMA and shame on the American public for teaching our children that you can succeed at under achieving!!


November 12th, 2009
9:33 am

I surprised at all the hate thrown at Taylor Swift. Ladies and gentlemen she is a crossover artist that reaches beyond the genre, and completely deserved the EOTY. My personal opinion of her “fifteen” was watered down by all the singers around her and the mic picking them up. Granted she doesn’t have the best voice but her reach beyond country is what won the award.
Aside from that, Lady Antebellum preformance was great, LeeAnn Rymes looked like a vampire from Twilight, Zac Brown Band’s preformace was the highlight of the night and they deserved the best new artist award. Tim McGraw messed up Southern Voice, and once again….LeeAnn Rymes looked awful

S Davis

November 12th, 2009
9:36 am

Taylor Swift cannot sing. All her songs are sung in 1 key. Goof Grief! And why did she do 2 songs on the CMA Awards Show. One was clearly enough. I shut my sound off on the first one. And, to win Female Vocalist and ENt of the Year over the other great nominees. Stupid!!! She can’t sing, no rhythm, acts so childish on stage. All I can say is her parents must have money..because clearly she has BOUGHT her way up. She has not earned her success.


November 12th, 2009
9:44 am

Country music is dead. Thanks a lot Garth Brooks!


November 12th, 2009
9:44 am

hey trish, is that you kanye?
what is it with the press and media hating on this child. leave her alone


November 12th, 2009
9:52 am

John Hopkins of the Zach Brown Band did go to UGA but finished his degree in Theater at FSU. Way to go John!

Blackberry Cobbler

November 12th, 2009
9:59 am

Taylor Swift is the “country” version of Miley Cyrus. I don’t much care for her music because I don’t think she can carry a tune in a bucket, but she’s clearly made a lot of people in Nashville rich and that’s what garners the votes– apparently.

I thought Carrie Underwood looked hot. I don’t have a problem with her 4-inch heels– the ones Reba had on were just as high. BTW, Reba looked good too.

Tim McGraw was horrible. What’s happened to him?

George Strait has more talent and class than the rest of that crowd put together.

Too many “country” artists these days look like they need a shave, a shower, and a haircut!!


November 12th, 2009
10:13 am

Wow I am Good! I am the Amazing Ghando! I can read the future through my crystal ball! I never watch the CMAs but I KNEW Taylor Swift would clean up! I knew it I knew it. I mean after her lil embarrassment on the VMAs..Kanye stealing her spotlight. He didnt realize she would be showered with sympathy in all the other awards shows but I felt CMAs was really going to shower her. and what do you know? they sure did. Even beating out as many others on here stated, more better vocalist than her. Personally I dont get her. Her and Miley Cyrus. I just have not figgered them out. Oh well, What do I know. I grew up in the 60s and 70s where you actually had to be able to sing, to win an award. Thats all changed now. So I no longer watch any awards shows that are suppose to reward for Singing and actual talent. The grammys are a joke(always were) VMA..joke, CMAs well accourding to the posts I read. Its a joke. And the folks on here know a hell of a lot more than I do about country style of singing.


November 12th, 2009
10:19 am

Oh my bad. True I grew up in the 60s and 70s and I stated you actually had to be able to sing to win and award. CORRECTION. thats not true. Many Many artists of the 60s 70s a early 80s could sing their tails off. yet lesser talented folks won awards over them. So I stand corrected. Awards shows are a JOKE. almost never the more talented artist wins. Those shows are fixed. and always were.


November 12th, 2009
10:25 am

unbelievable. adults are writing this stuff about a nineteen year old? you are entitled to your opinion, but the degrading comments about this TEENAGER are incredibly inappropriate.

maybe she only connects with the younger crowd. (and by younger crowd i mean late twenties and younger–yes, i am in my late twenties, and my friends and i still really like and connect with her music)

maybe the CMAs arent the way they were when they first began. welcome to 2009.


November 12th, 2009
10:33 am

Jason Aldean – “He’s not exactly a showstopping stage presence” you got to be kidding me! Obviously Rodney Ho hasn’t seen his concert or didn’t see the CMA’s last year when he performed “She’s Country”. Why is he covering the CMA’s for the AJC anyways. I guess Terrence Moore was busy.


November 12th, 2009
10:34 am

That Brad Paisley performance was the WORST song I think that has ever been performed at the CMAs. ‘Wake up Martin Luther King… Welcome to the future’. Oh. My. God. Plus, I had to sit through a Lady Antelbellum concert this year, and if you’re wondering: yes they do perform all of their songs like they were perpetually trapped inside a corny music video.

Joe Fan

November 12th, 2009
10:42 am

Agreed Taylor Swift should stick to writing songs. She is cute but it is stretching it to call her EOTY. It really is kinda sad that she has already peaked at 19. Sugarland, what a great group and Jennifer Nettles can’t say enough about her signing. Zach Brown a group on the rise and he is from Dahlonega GA. Lady Antebellum another fantastic group from GA. Georgia is truly blessed to have such talented people.


November 12th, 2009
10:44 am

Oh, Jason Aldean sucks…. Big Green Tractor might be the worst song of all time. If you played that for any real country legends they would agree. Furthermore Carrie Underwood is smokin hot and she can wear 4 inch heals if she wants, because she can pull them off.

The Zach Brown Band got shafted all the way around, best band and album hands down. and Miranda Lambert should have won the female vocalist of the year great singer, original album and covers.


November 12th, 2009
10:52 am

Can’t believe all the Swift bashing, and not nothing about Darrius,he cannot sing at all, sounded like a horse was singing.


November 12th, 2009
11:19 am

I’ve learned never to watch anything in real time any more. For the exact reason of last night. You get to fast forward thru all of Taylor Swift. I was away from the controls at the beginning of her first song and thought someone was in a haunted house with all the horrible sounds coming out of my television set. Another thing. What’s up with her and her hair. She can be singing a slow song and she throws her head down and up to make her hair toss around.


November 12th, 2009
11:22 am

UGA is going to get killed when they come to Bobby Dodd Stadium on 11/28. Who cares if Zac Brown has ties to Athens. So does REM, B-52s, Widespread, etc. etc….the list goes on.
Your reign in Atlanta as the bulldog nation is coming to a halt.
Taylor rocks it!


November 12th, 2009
11:55 am

CMA show was fully entertaining, but where was the super talented and long time performer, Alan Jackson ? Did I miss him when he performed or was he not even there ?


November 12th, 2009
12:24 pm

hey ya all are flippin crazy specially that trash trish taylors got better looks and talent then you to all u taylor haters look at it like this youll never have her talent or money so get a life you non cou ntry fans


November 12th, 2009
12:39 pm

Sugarland is awesome! Love me some Kristian Bush!


November 12th, 2009
1:05 pm

First off, Little Big Town has TWO Georgians.

Secondly, Lady A had no business winning that best group award.

Taylor Swift

November 12th, 2009
1:28 pm

I’m laughing my nineteen-year-old lil’ patootie off…all the way to the bank…