This post has been updated. See note below for details.
Country music has never been short on sentimentality, the emotion that carried veteran singer George Strait to his thirdentertainer of the year honor at the 47th annual
Strait, who recently announced his retirement from touring and is currently out on his "The Cowboy Rides Away" farewell tour, topped fellow nominees
“Oh, my gosh — never in a million years,” the 61-year-old Texan said after putting his hand to his chest. “My dad’s been having some pretty good conversations up there, I have to say,” he added with a laugh, glancing skyward. “This blows me away. I cannot believe it,” he said as the crowd in Nashville’s
The other big award of the evening went to Swift, who became only the second recipient ever of the CMA's Pinnacle Award, recognizing an artist who exerts extraordinary impact with his or her music internationally. The award was created in 2005 and first presented to Garth Brooks.
The statue was presented to 23-year-old Swift by a phalanx of stars she once opened for as her career blossomed: Strait,
Often criticized for her wide-eyed enthusiasm for various awards she's collected since her career took off in 2006, Swift displayed a sense of humor recalling when Scott Borchetta, the head of her then-nascent record label, called and told her she'd landed a slot opening for Rascal Flatts.
“I said, ‘This has got to be a miracle!’ and he said, ‘No, it’s not a miracle;
“They told me this was going to happen, but I didn’t know it was going to be all this,” Swift said, surveying the line of stars flanking her on stage. “You’re not only rewarding my hard work and
Major category wins also went to husband-wife stars Shelton and
The duo Florida Georgia Line took a pair of trophies as duo of the year and for top single for their breakthrough hit "Cruise."
Swift, McGraw and Urban also collected two CMA awards each for their collaborative hit "Highway Don't Care." Song of the year award went to "I Drive Your Truck," a hit for Lee Brice written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yearey about Jared Monti, a U.S. soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006.
Critically lauded newcomer Kacey Musgraves was singled out as the year's best new artist, for which she thanked her grandmother, whom she described from the stage as "my booking agent when I was 10 years old."
During Musgraves' performance, she pushed the envelope of country music propriety with her song "Follow Your Arrow," in which she reels off life advice including: "Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that's what you're into/When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, follow your arrow wherever it points." Another lyric in the song, with the recommendation to "roll up a joint" when times get tough, was bleeped for the TV audience.
Among two dozen musical numbers during the three-hour show,
Musgraves and Swift led the nominations for this year's awards with six apiece.
Update at 1:33 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said George Strait had won the CMA entertainer of the year award 18 times. He has been nominated 18 times, and on Wednesday got his third win.
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