Strait, 61, won the night's top prize of Entertainer of the
Year, beating out Lambert, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Taylor
Swift. Bryan won the title last year.
"Wow. Thank you so much. You know what, I've always said I've
had the best fans in the world and I heard this was a fan voted
thing, so I rest my case. This is so amazing, it's been such an
amazing past 30 years," Strait said.
Shelton, who co-hosted the awards show with Bryan, added "our
hero won tonight."
Lambert won female vocalist, beating out Sheryl Crow, Kacey
Musgraves, Carrie Underwood and Swift, and also won single
record of the year for her hit "Mama's Broken Heart."
"I'm so grateful and thankful and humbled," the singer said.
The Academy of Country Music is an organization of music
industry professionals who aim to promote and preserve the
tradition of country music, and they vote for the top country
music achievers for their annual awards ceremony.
Jason Aldean won male vocalist for the second consecutive year,
calling the win "an even bigger shock this year."
Rising artist Kacey Musgraves picked up album of the year for
her debut studio record "Same Trailer Different Park."
"I just want to say I'm really proud to be a woman representing
country music," the 25-year-old singer said.
The award for song of the year, which goes to songwriters and
composers, was given to Lee Brice's "I Drive Your Truck." The
song was inspired by Paul Monti, the father of U.S. soldier
Jared Monti who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006.
"We're so honored and grateful for the outpouring response to
this song," songwriter Connie Harrington said in tears, adding
"Paul Monti and family and to every person in America that knows
what it's like to live the words of this song, day in and day
out, God bless."
PERFORMANCES SPAN COUNTRY MUSIC GENRE
The three-hour show televised live on CBS gave out a handful of
awards in between performances from artists spanning the
spectrum from country music, from Brett Eldredge's summery song
"Beat of the Music" to Shelton's intimate performance of "My
Eyes" featuring Gwen Sebastian.
The first award of the night was given to Nashville band Florida
Georgia Line, formed by Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, who won
vocal duo of the year. The band, which won the coveted New
Artist of the Year award last year, presented this year's
fan-voted accolade in the category to newcomer Justin Moore.
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Moore, donning a white cowboy hat on stage, gave a tear-filled
speech, saying "Country radio, thank you for giving me a voice and
taking a chance on a hillbilly from Arkansas."
Bryan and Shelton peppered Sunday's awards ceremony at the MGM Grand
hotel in Las Vegas with quips about each other, their fellow
musicians and issues such as marijuana legalization and same-sex
"If you don't like live music, you need to go down the block and see
Britney Spears," Shelton joked in the presence of pop singer Spears'
younger sister Jamie Lynn, who is currently trying to carve out a
career in country music.
Shelton also took the stage to sing with his fellow judge from NBC's
"The Voice" judges panel, Colombian singer Shakira, singing their
Other duets included Florida Georgia Line joining Bryan to sing
their song "This is How We Roll," Tim McGraw and Faith Hill joining
forces for "Meanwhile Back at Mama's," and Dierks Bentley and Sheryl
Crow singing their hit "I Hold On."
Sibling group The Band Perry kicked off the awards with its hit
"Chainsaw," and picked up the award for vocal group of the year.
Brad Paisley entertained the poolside crew with his latest song
"River Bank," Hunter Hayes belted out his inspiration ballad
"Invisible," and singer Stevie Nicks joined Lady Antebellum to sing
"Golden" and Nick's classic song "Rhiannon."
Lady Antebellum also joined Darius Rucker to sing the folksy "Wagon
Wheel," as the entire audience sang along.
Church belted out his anthem "Give Me Back My Hometown," Urban added
some rock'n'roll with "Even The Stars Fall 4 U," while veteran
singer Strait received a standing ovation after performing his new
song "I Got a Car."
Veteran country musician Merle Haggard was given the Crystal
Milestone accolade honoring his career on his 77th birthday on
Sunday, while the audience sang "Happy Birthday" to him.
"Country music's been great to me all my life and it's great again
tonight," the singer said.
(Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles;
editing by Eric Walsh and
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