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Underwood wins entertainer award at 44th Academy of Country Awards.

Sunday, April 5, 2009 – Carrie Underwood won the big award of the night at the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday - in the final award of the evening in an award voted on by fans.

Crying, Underwood said, "I've had a lot of good moments in the last four years. This one takes the cake. Thank you God. Thank you fans...I never thought I'd be nominated, and I never thought I'd win. I don't know what to say. I got nothing." After a few more words, Underwood let out a scream and twirled around.

Underwood also won the top female vocalist. "It is my belief that country music makes the world a better place, and I'm so glad to be a part of country music," said Underwood. "I feel like I won American Idol all over again."

Taylor Swift took home album of the year for "Fearless." A very excited Swift hugged friend Kellie Pickler, who was sitting next to her.

"If I talked with you for more than five minutes, I probably wrote a song about you. I'd like to thank all the characters in my songs," said Swift.

Trace Adkins took home the song of the year award for You're Gonna Miss This. "I didn't expect this," he said. "I really didn't."

"This song was recording by a father whose oldest daughter had just gotten married. It was very personal for me, and I didn't think other people would relate to it the way that I did." He said that he did not expect the song to be released as a single, until label head Mike Dungan told him it would be. "Go ahead, ain't nobody gonna play it," Adkins told the ACM crowd. I'm glad I'm an idiot."

An absent Brad Paisley won the top male vocalist award. "I really want to thank you for this. I wish I could be there, but I didn't want to take the chance of missing the birth of our next child," he said while seated on a couch in Nashville with Little Jimmy Dickens next to him. Paisley won two awards handed out last week for Video of the Year for Waitin' on a Woman, and Paisley and Keith Urban duet took Vocal Event of the Year for Start a Band.

Sugarland won the top vocal duo, beating longstanding duo Brooks & Dunn among others. "Thank you for dreaming back every time we dream," said Kristian Bush.

Julianne Hough won top new artist over Zac Brown Band and Jake Owen. Each had won their respective category of top new female, group and male artist. Those categories were combined for the awards show. "Thanks to everybody who believed in me," said Hough, who was holding back tears and trying to hold up her dress as well.

Jamey Johnson won the first award at the Academy of Country Music Awards with In Color for song of the year. He co-wrote the song with James Otto and Lee Thomas Miller.

"Thanks to my band too for going in on an off day and producing an off record," said Johnson.

In no surprise, top vocal group went to Rascal Flatts over The Lost Trailers, Little Big Town, the Randy Rogers Band and Lady Antebellum. "What an amazing ride this has been," said Jay DeMarcus. "Now, I know how Brooks & Dunn feels." Brooks & Dunn won awards in their category for many years.

LeAnn Rimes was awarded the Home Depot Humanitarian Award as previously announced. "Making a difference in other people's lives brings me a lot of joy, and I do it out of the goodness of my heart, never thinking I'm going to be honored for it," Rimes said. She said the award was to "remind us of the ability to make a difference in other people's lives."

Brooks & Dunn got the 44th annual ACMs show started with Play Something Country And while not everybody would agree that what followed fit the bill, the song was interspersed with snippets of Swift on Just Another Picture to Burn, Sugarland with It Happens, Underwood with All American Girl and Rascal Flatts with Me and My Gang. The end of the song included everybody together with B&D finishing their six-minute song.

"Oh my God, what an opening," said host Reba McEntire. "Now, that's what I call a stimulus package."

"It seems everyone wants to do a country album nowadays," said McEntire. "Michael Phelps and Willie Nelson are recording an album together. They are. They're covering the Doobie Brothers."

McEntire proved corny with her humor, referring to George Strait and Elton John, saying that was the first time she ever mentioned "straight and Elton John in the first sentence."

Chesney debuted his new song, Out Last Night, an uptempo countryish number.

Heidi Newfield performed her hit song Johnny and June about June Carter and Johnny Cash with photos of them on a screen behind her. Newfield sounded a bit float until she let loose on the chorus. At one point, the former Trick Pony lead singer was surrounded by a ring of fire. Newfield was nominated for five awards.

Toby Keith was on hand with his band to offer God Love Her. The song kicked, although the feed on the vocals sounded a bit off - not loud enough.

Johnson quickly followed that up with the non-commercial sounding In Color, strumming an acoustic guitar with the vocals once again not loud enough. Johnson displayed a lot of vocal grit, however, in a song far different than anything else played 45 minutes into the 3-hour show.

Jamie Foxx started leading a chant, before joking, "That's the BET awards...Things are changing (for black people in country). Darius Rucker...A black man is running the country." He then introduced fellow Texan George Strait, who played the hard country song Troubadour.

Magician David Copperfield was on hand, not to sing, but to work his his expertise to bring Swift down from a suspended box. She popped out to go to a piano and sing You're No Sorry. while Swift was way flat in previous performances on live TV, she sounded far better here in a performance aided by strings.

Swift received a crystal milestone award for sales this year from McEntire, who praised her for expanding country's audience. "I did not know this was going to happen actually," said a surprised Swift. She thanked her label "for letting be myself and writing my own songs."

Lady Antebellum came out to play their current single Run to You with a lot of energy.

Lee Ann Womack followed with a laid back, somewhat soulful song, Solitary Thinking, which never quite took off. Womack gained little attention with her last album and no hits.

Keith Urban changed his suit and tie for performing clothes to dish out a solid version of his hit Kiss a Girl. Wife Nicole Kidman nodded along favorably to the performance.

Miranda Lambert, decked out in black boots and dress, offered the new mid-tempo Dead Flowers, which built the heat as she went along, eventually hitting the mark.

John Rich trotted out his political song Shutting Detroit Down, about the unemployment in the U.S. while fat cats try to get rich. He dedicated it to working people in the U.S., while playing seated with acoustic guitar in hand in the most poignant song of the night (until that point anyway). Rich played a stripped down version of the song with no other instrumental help as well as being slightly slowed down. His guitar had a slogan "Made in the U.S.A." affixed to it.

Billy Ray Cyrus self-promoted his new disc out Tuesday along with daughter Miley's new Hannah Montana movie opening Friday before introducing her to sing The Climb, a loud sounding rock/pop song, which had nothing to do with country music. A string secdtion aided her performance, which was over the top in staging with sparkles coming dwon towards the end nad her band decked out in white.

Montgomey Gentry immediately followed with One in Every Crowd, a song in their traditional southern rock as country sound with the crowd enthusiastically singing along to the chorus.

Underwood with a huge maroon dress, belted out a version of Randy Travis' classic countrty hit I Told You So, where her pipes soared.

McEntire premiered her new big sounding single, Strange, from a CD due out later this year. the song featured some fiddle and banjo and McEntire's trademark powerful vocals.

Adkins sang Til the Last Shot's Fired with the help of the West Point Glee Club. He was introduced by a soldier, who lost both legs fighting in Iraq.The emotional song closed with the glee club singing "But we can't come home 'til/the last shot's fired/'Til the last shot's fired" and received tremendous applause from the crowd.

Sugarland trotted out their version of their hit What I Did with the typical soulful, bluesy vocals of Jennifer Nettles. "As a little girl, I dreamed of writing songs," Nettle said after receiveing a crystal milestone award from McEntire. "Live your dreams."

Blake Shelton was a late addition to the show performing in place of Tim McGraw, who was a no-show due to differences with the producers, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Rascal Flatts offered their hit Here Comes the Pain, with the vocals of Gary LeVox sounding distant for the group as they did with others during the night.

Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Rising Appalachia buck the mainsteam, and that's fine with them – Rising Appalachia would not be accused of being in the musical mainstream. Not too many bands who combine folk and Appalachian sounds with new world music could possibly be. And that suits the sister-led duo of Chloe Smith and Leah Song just fine. In fact, at one point, Chloe made it clear she did not embrace radio play as a sign of success... »»»
Concert Review: Bingham plays with something to prove – Ryan Bingham mainly focused on songs from his sixth album "American Love Song," for this lively show. Backed by a supportive band that also included two female backup singers and a fiddler, Bingham's eclectic setlist touched upon country, singer/songwriter folk, rock and blues. Bingham reached for lively country sounds early on, with... »»»
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