NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s been Taylor Swift’s year, and Wednesday was her night as she became the youngest person and the first solo female act in a decade to win the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year award.
Swift won all four awards for which she was nominated, making history on a historic night that included Darius Rucker’s win as new artist.
“I’ll never forget this moment because in this moment everything that I have ever wanted has just happened to me,” Swift said through tears as she accepted the association’s highest honor during ceremonies at Sommet Center.
The 19-year-old crossover sensation beat the biggest names in country and snapped Kenny Chesney’s stranglehold on the category: He won three straight and four of the last five. She also ended Carrie Underwood’s three-year dominance in the female vocalist category.
Chesney hugged and kissed Swift on the cheek, then whispered a message in her ear before she received the trophy. She called her band on stage and was the center of a group hug as fans cheered wildly, holding signs that said, “We love you, Taylor”; her father cried in the audience.
“Every single person in that category let me open up for them this year,” Swift said. “Thank you all so much. I love you.”
Rucker was also a fan favorite, running into the crowd during his performance of “Alright.” The Hootie and the Blowfish frontman, who has sold 1 million copies of his first country album, “Learn to Live,” became the second African-American to win a major individual CMA.
He joins Charley Pride, who won entertainer of the year in 1971 and male vocalist in 1971-72.
“First of all, to the fans, thank y’all for accepting me,” Rucker said. “And I think most importantly, to country radio, you took a chance on a pop singer from Charleston, S.C. Thank you so much for that!”