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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

A little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll

Posted: 07 Apr 2014 01:20 AM PDT

George Strait and Miranda Lambert lead winners at the Academy Of Country Music Awards.

Country music veteran George Strait and singer Miranda Lambert led the winners at the 49th Academy of Country Music awards, while the genre's biggest names, including Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, Eric Church and Keith Urban, sang their hits.

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.

George Strait -- AFP pics

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 organisation 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 artiste 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.

Blake Shelton and Shakira performing their duet, Medicine

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 US soldier Jared Monti who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006.

"We're so honoured 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."

The three-hour show televised live on CBS in the US gave out a handful of awards in between performances from artistes 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 artiste of the year award last year, presented this year's fan-voted accolade in the category to newcomer Justin Moore.

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 legalisation and same-sex marriage.

The Band Perry won the vocal of the year award.

"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 duet Medicine. 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 honouring 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. — Reuters


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