November 12, 2008

NASHVILLE - "The 42nd Annual CMA Awards" spread the love around as Country Music's consistent hitmakers racked up Awards along with first-time winners.

George Strait's mantle got a little more crowded as he became the artist with the most CMA Awards in history, adding Single of the Year for "I Saw God Today" and Album of the Year for Troubadour, both co-produced by Strait and Tony Brown, to his tally.  With these two trophies and two additional for producing, Strait's 22 CMA Awards trophies eclipse Brooks & Dunn's previous record of 19 Awards.

"I love this album and I really appreciate everyone who bought it," the humble Strait said after accepting his second Award of the night. "Everyone says they've got the greatest fans.  Well, I really got the greatest fans."

One of Country's best showmen Kenny Chesney picked up his fourth Entertainer of the Year Award, tying Garth Brooks' record for the most wins in the category.

"As much as tonight is about Awards I really believe that being able to stand up here is more about great songs; it's more about the fans," Chesney said. "This is my fourth time standing up here and I am really humbled."

Earlier in the broadcast, Chesney brought out reggae group The Wailers to perform an island-flavored medley that combined Chesney's "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" and Bob Marley's classic "Three Little Birds."

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood co-hosted the gala event live on the ABC Television Network from the Sommet Center in Downtown Nashville. Paisley remarked that he and Underwood "both grew up watching the CMA's each and every year," with Underwood joking, "We're new at this job so they can kick us out at any minute."

But it turns out that "Country Music's Biggest Night" was very good to its hosts.  Paisley picked up his second Male Vocalist and fourth Music Video of the Year Award for "Waitin' on a Woman," featuring legendary actor Andy Griffith and directed by Jim Shea and Peter Tilden. "I won't take long," Paisley said with his signature sense of humor. "I've talked enough.

Backstage, Paisley expressed excitement about Griffith's first CMA Awards win. "I can't wait to talk to him about it. I'm sure he is thrilled."

Underwood nabbed her third consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year Award. Upon accepting her Award, Underwood thanked those in the music industry who voted for her. "I got through here in an unconventional way and you guys didn't have to accept me," she said.

One of the most touching moments of the night was when Leslie Ponder, whose husband was killed in combat in Afghanistan, introduced Underwood's performance of "Just a Dream."

First-time Entertainer nominees Sugarland picked up their second consecutive Vocal Duo of the Year Award and lead singer Jennifer Nettles snagged her first Song of the Year Award for writing the duo's heart-wrenching single "Stay."

"You never know when you come up here if you are ever going to get to come up here again," Nettles said about their Vocal Duo win. "So we are very thankful."

Nettles and partner Kristian Bush later brought the house down with the powerful performance of "Love" from their third consecutive Platinum album Love on the Inside.

With their win for Vocal Group of the Year, Rascal Flatts tied The Statler Brothers for most consecutive wins in the category with six. The Statlers still hold the record for most total wins for Vocal Group with nine. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney lavished praise repeatedly on the people that got them where they are today. "We thank all of our fans," LeVox said. "Again all of our fans, again all of our fans, again all of our fans."

Lady Antebellum picked up the coveted New Artist of the Year Award (formerly Horizon Award) after performing their breakout hit "Love Don't Live Here."

"It's very humbling," said group member Hillary Scott backstage with partners Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley. "We do not take this lightly at all. We have so much to prove."

The other performers nominated for New Artist of the Year included Kellie Pickler with the sassy "Best Days of Your Life," James Otto singing "Just Got Started Loving You," Jason Aldean with the rocking "She's Country," and Rodney Atkins offering a little slice of his backyard in "It's America."

In the pre-telecast ceremony, CMA Awards were given to two first-time winners - Mac McAnally for Musician of the Year and Robert Plant, who won the Musical Event of the Year Award with Alison Krauss for "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)."

Paisley and fellow Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year nominee Keith Urban opened the show with their new vocal/guitar duet "Start a Band" from Paisley's Play album and then broke up later in the broadcast to each go solo. Urban performed "Sweet Thing" while Paisley offered CMA Award-winning song "Waitin' On a Woman." Fellow Male Vocalist nominee Alan Jackson brought along a few dozen friends to line dance to his party anthem "Good Time."

The Female Vocalist of the Year nominees showed why women in Country Music are a force to be reckoned with. Taylor Swift acted out a fairytale complete with Prince Charming in her performance of "Love Story," Martina McBride belted "Ride," and Miranda Lambert offered the poignant "More Like Her."

Vocal Duo of the Year nominees Brooks & Dunn got a little help from Musical Event of the Year nominee Reba McEntire to help perform "Cowgirls Don't Cry."

Vocal Group of the Year nominees the Eagles made a return trip to the CMA Awards, performing "Busy Being Fabulous" from their wildly successful Country effort Long Road Out of Eden. Two-time nominee Trace Adkins performed his hit "You're Gonna Miss This."

Country Music was infused with a little rock - Kid Rock. The Detroit native performed his mega hit "All Summer Long." Former Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker showed his Country side performing No. 1 hit "Don't Think I Don't Think About It."

A little bit of Hollywood came to Nashville in the form of Awards presenters, including the stars of the upcoming  film epic "Australia" Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, "Hannah Montana" stars Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus, and Reese Witherspoon, who appears in the forthcoming holiday comedy "Four Christmases."

Shania Twain made a special appearance, her first on the CMA Awards since 2005, to present the Entertainer of the Year Award and received a standing ovation from the audience.

Other presenters on "Country Music's Biggest Night" included Vince Gill, Julianne Hough, Heidi Newfield, Jake Owen, John Rich, Josh Turner, Jimmy Wayne, and Lee Ann Womack.

The winners of "The 42nd Annual CMA Awards" are:

Kenny Chesney

Brad Paisley

Carrie Underwood

Rascal Flatts


Lady Antebellum

George Strait
Produced by Tony Brown and George Strait
MCA Nashville

"I Saw God Today"
George Strait
Produced by Tony Brown and George Strait
MCA Nashville

Jennifer Nettles
Jennifer Nettles Publishing

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
"Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)"
Rounder Records

"Waitin' On a Woman"
Brad Paisley featuring Andy Griffith
Directed by Jim Shea and Peter Tilden

Mac McAnally - Guitar

In 1958, CMA was the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music. Its membership includes nearly 6,000 companies and music industry professionals around the globe.

"The 42nd Annual CMA Awards" is a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton is the Executive Producer. Paul Miller is the Director. David Wild is the writer. The special will be shot in high definition and broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.

Premiere Radio Networks is the official radio packager of the CMA Awards, including a stereo-radio simulcast of the gala event. American Airlines is the official airline of the 2008 CMA Awards. Chevy: The Official Ride of Country Music. Mary Kay® is the Official Beauty Sponsor of the 2008 CMA Awards. Additional promotional partners include Borders®, Carl Black Chevrolet, Durango Boot®, Tetley® Iced Tea, and VAULTTM Citrus Soda.
George Strait Surpasses Record For Most Trophies In CMA Awards History with 22 At "The 42nd Annual CMA Awards"
Kenny Chesney Wins Fourth Entertainer of the Year Award
Brad Paisley and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles Each Win Two On "Country Music's Biggest Night"
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