Sugarland, Swift take early ACM honors
Sugarland took single record of the year honors for their mellow hit "Stay," and Taylor Swift won top new female vocalist Sunday at the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, AP reported.
"Thanks everybody for believing in a song that's almost a five-minute acoustic song," said Sugarland's Kristian Bush.
Swift, 18, thanked her mother for going on the road with her beginning when she was 16, leaving behind a comfortable life to sleep in rental cars and on airplanes so her teenage daughter could pursue her dream.
"Mom, thank you so much," she said as she fought back tears. "I love you. This is for you."
Earlier, Brad Paisley's "Online" won video of the year. It was produced by former "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander, who also co-starred and made an onstage appearance Sunday night, joking that he didn't believe the stereotype of country stars and fans being religious - seeing as he hadn't seen any of them at synagogue.
Tracy Lawrence won vocal event of the year for "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" with Tim McGraw and Kenney Chesney.
"This is absolutely awesome," Lawrence said. "We moved a big mountain pulling this off."
Hosted by Reba McEntire, the awards are aired live from the MGM Grand. Carrie Underwood opened with her rocker, "I Don't Even Know His Last Name."
It was McEntire's 10th time as host, going back to 1986. In those days, she joked, "Underwood was a typewriter, Sugarland was doughnut shop and a Pickler was someone who made pickles.
"Back then, Roger Clemens wasn't even interested in country music," she cracked. Clemens recent acknowledged a long-standing relationship with country singer Mindy McCready that began when she was 15. The former baseball player maintains the relationship was not sexual.
Chesney led all nominees at the with 11, including the night's most coveted trophy, entertainer of the year.
Other leading nominees were Rodney Atkins with six, and Brad Paisley, Big & Rich and Sugarland with four apiece.
If Chesney takes the entertainer award, it would be his fourth straight win and tie him with Garth Brooks. Alabama holds the record with five in a row.
For the first time, fans' votes will choose the winner. All other categories are decided by ACM members.