Brooks & Dunn were named entertainers of the year at the 32nd Academy of Country Music Awards on Wednesday, while teen sensation LeAnn Rimes was crowned country’s best new singer.
“There’s a God and country music is very much alive and well in America,” Ronnie Dunn said after Jay Leno handed over the evening’s top award to him and partner Kix Brooks. The pair also won the prize for top duet.
Leno, a country music fan who last year wore a cowboy-cut suit with embroidery on the back reading, “Possum - the other white meat,” showed up this time in a sequined cowboy-style jacket.
But the night clearly belonged to the 14-year-old Rimes. She won trophies for new female singer, top single and best song for her yodeling rendition of “Blue.”
“I could really get used to this. This isn’t too bad,” the 14-year-old Texan said. The Patsy Cline-Brenda Lee sound-alike won new artist and female country vocalist Grammy Awards earlier this year.
George Strait, a Texan who made a rare appearance without his trademark cowboy hat, won two trophies: top male singer and best album for “Blue Clear Sky.”
Patty Loveless won her second consecutive female singer award.
The dance band Sawyer Brown got the best group trophy and Ricochet, known for hits like “Daddy’s Money” and “The Truth Is I Lied,” was the new group winner.
Trace Atkins, perhaps best-known for his hit single “Every Light In The House Is On,” won the new male vocalist award and Collin Ray got the top video trophy for “I Think About You.”
Roy Clark was presented the academy’s prestigious Pioneer Award in recognition of outstanding and unprecedented achievements in the field country music.