NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Country Music Association Awards paid tribute to the past, present and future, giving George Strait his third entertainer of the year trophy on Wednesday while also awarding a quartet of 20-somethings who are helping to stretch the ever-fluid boundaries of the country music genre.
Strait won the CMA’s top honor for the first time since 1990 in something of a victory lap as he launches the final leg of his The Cowboy Rides Away tour – his goodbye to touring. Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Kacey Musgraves were among the top winners as were husband and wife Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert.
“This blows me away,” the 61-year-old legend, whose competition included Swift and Shelton, told the audience after a standing ovation. “I just cannot believe it. You guys that are nominated are such powerful entertainers. I’m just thrilled to even be nominated again.”
Swift won two trophies for her “Highway Don’t Care” collaboration with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. Shelton also won two awards, including the prestigious album of the year for “Based on a True Story …” and male vocalist of the year for the fourth time, matching Lambert, who won her fourth female vocalist of the year award.
Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley scored single and vocal duo of the year. FGL took the trophy for single of the year for their “Cruise” remix featuring Nelly.
Musgraves – who, along with Swift, led all nominees with six – won the new artist trophy, besting a field that included Florida Georgia Line. Lee Brice’s “I’d Drive Your Truck” won song of the year, and Little Big Town took its second straight vocal group of the year.
Swift was given the CMA’s Pinnacle Award. The award goes to artists who take country music to a worldwide audience. Garth Brooks is the only previous winner in 2005.