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Swift sweeps Country Music Awards
The 2009 Country Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn., proved to be one of the most exciting and memorable events for rookie country musician Taylor Swift. At the tender age of 19, she received four awards during the evening, including the coveted title of Entertainer of the Year. Swift beat out such seasoned artists and country legends as Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban. She also beat the competition in the categories Album of the Year (“Fearless”), Music Video of the Year for “Love Story” and Female Vocalist of the Year.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the broadcast drew in an average of 16.8 million viewers, the show’s highest ratings in four years. Country music’s biggest night was hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, who received seven nominations during the evening.
The show was filled with 19 stellar performances. Swift opened with her hit song “Forever & Always” off her triple platinum album “Fearless.” She appeared to be shedding her “good girl” image as she threw a chair and even slid down a metal pole. However, she has reason to act this way when singing about the boys who have broke her heart. Before her performance began, the audience viewed a scripted interview with Nancy O’Dell. Swift said that if boys don’t want songs written about them then they should not do bad things to her.
Paisley and Underwood then came on stage to kick off the night. They expressed their love for country music, especially because it is about “real people, real life, and real feelings.” The two also poked fun at Kanye West’s outburst at this year’s MTV’s Video Music Awards, which seemed to be a hot topic for other presenters and winners during the course of the show. Paisley picked up his acoustic guitar and sang with Underwood about how “cowboys have manners, they don’t interrupt,” another stab at the Taylor and Kanye incident from preceding months. Paisley’s comedy was refreshing, as he spoke of country music stars all getting along, yet being one giant dysfunctional family like “George Strait Plus 8.” Underwood was charismatic as always and the two did a wonderful job keeping the mood light and filled with laughs.
Soon after, Kid Rock appeared on stage to present the award for Single of the Year, ironically stating he is “single” himself. As the crowd roared in laughter, he announced the winner as Lady Antebellum for the song “I Run to You.” The group also performed the song “Need You Now” later in the evening. They were immersed in snow falling on the stage and sounded absolutely spectacular. Lady Antebellum also won the award for Vocal Group of the Year. The trio was grateful and expressed their appreciation for the support they have received from the country music community.
Paisley and Underwood then introduced Darius Rucker, who received a nomination for Male Vocalist of the Year. Many fans are familiar with Rucker from his days as the lead singer of the group Hootie & the Blowfish. However, Rucker successfully made the leap from rock ‘n roll to country music with three straight No. 1 hits. He performed the song “Alright” from his album “Learn to Live.” It was unusual to see him without the rest of his band and singing to a very different genre of music. Yet, it is evident that Rucker is achieving newfound success and recognition as a solo country artist, especially with his CMA win for New Artist of the Year. Naomi and Wynonna Judd made an appearance to present Rucker with this new title.
Kellie Pickler and Jake Owen, also a nominee for the award New Artist of the Year, presented the award for Song of the Year. The winner was “In Color” by Jamey Johnson, which was written with other writers Lee Thomas Miller and James Otto.
Next, one of the nominees for Female Vocalist of the Year, Miranda Lambert, performed “White Liar.” Soon after, Brad Paisley performed his hit song “Welcome to the Future.” The two rocked out on the stage and proved that their great talents and showmanship most definitely earned them nominations in two of the most renowned categories. However, Lambert lost out to Swift in Female Vocalist of the Year, for which they both received nominations.
Zac Brown Band, with four nominations for the evening, performed after Paisley. The group played their cover of The Charlie Daniels Band song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The leader of the group, Zac Brown, tore his guitar apart toward the conclusion of the song. The band delivered an absolutely amazing and energetic performance of a song that requires such commitment and strength. The group was also nominated for Vocal Group of the Year with the likes of The Eagles and Lady Antebellum.
Underwood, who currently has the No. 1 Song on the country charts along with the No. 1 album, “Play On,” performed her hit “Cowboy Casanova.” Underwood was decked out in a flashy outfit, and danced along with an entire ensemble as her song definitely proved its worth in the world of country music. Underwood was nomianted for Female Vocalist, a title which she won the past three years. Although Underwood walked away empty handed, she should be admired for the excellent job she did hosting the show.
Chris Daughtry’s performance of “Tennessee Line” with Vince Gill was exceptional, especially since it was the first time the two performed together. The song was followed by an 88-year-old Jimmy Dickens, of the Grand Ole Opry, coming on stage to interrupt Paisley’s commentary (reference Kanye West) to shout “You go, girl!” to Taylor Swift. Dickens praised her for her “Love Story” video, telling Paisley his wasn’t bad either, but Taylor’s was the best of all time. Swift burst out laughing in the crowd, along with the rest of the audience, as Paisley questioned how a four foot, nine inch man managed to get by security.
Classic country artists like Keith Urban and Tim McGraw also showcased their popular songs, including Urban’s ” ‘Til Summer Comes Around,” and McGraw’s “Southern Voice.”
Sugarland performed a powerful rendition of their song “Keep You.” It was not surprising since the duo always sounds spectacular. Singer Jennifer Nettles has a unique sounding voice, bringing a rock edge to the group’s usually vulnerable lyrics and moving songs. The two walked away with the award for Vocal Duo of the Year late in the evening. Sugarland was presented their award from Nascar Legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and singer Julianne Hough.
Next, Swift won for her album “Fearless.”
“This album is my diary,” Swift said. “Thank you for saying you like my diary.”
Other talk of the night centered around the current “divorce” that Brooks & Dunn are going through after 20 years of recording and performing together. Their final performance consisted of their song “Honky Tonk Stomp,” after Paisley and Underwood sang a “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” parody about the two. Brooks & Dunn was nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year, making it the 14th time the duo recieved the nomination. The also recieved a nomination for their song “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” featuring Reba McEntire.
Swift wowed the crowd when she performed for a second time. She sang another one of her songs, “Fifteen,” off her “Fearless,” album, as younger people in the audience sang along to the lyrics.
Then, LeAnn Rimes, who won her first CMA at 15, presented the award for Male Vocalist of the Year to Brad Paisley. Soon after, Martina McBride paid tribute to Charlie McCoy. George Strait came out to sing with her the song “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” The two did a great job performing together. McBride sounds excellent live, and combing her talents with such a legend in the world of country music was truly wonderful.
Lee Ann Womack and Kris Kristofferson then presented Swift with Female Vocalist of the Year. She thanked country radio for taking chances on her with her music as well as Reba and Faith Hill for “being themselves.” Afterward, she comically thanked everyone for not running up on the stage during her speech, as the crowd was immersed in laughter. It was refreshing to see the starlet in a much lighter, witty mood after that embarrassing incident.
Next, Kenny Chesney, along Dave Matthews, sang the song “I’m Alive,” from Chesney’s album “Lucky Old Sun.” Although, it was an unusual pairing, the two sounded excellent together.
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw presented the award for Entertainer of the Year to Swift. Upon the announcement of her victory, Swift came onto the stage bawling.
“I’ll never forget this moment, because in this moment everything I’ve ever wanted has just happened to me.”
Then, Swift called the rest of her band up. Chants of “We love you Taylor!” rang through the crowd as she was embraced in a group hug with her band.
The night was a success with the great variety of prestigious country acts all present on the same stage. Although some performers walked away empty handed, it was Swift’s time to be recognized as a force to the reckoned with.