Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton arrive at the 46th CMA Awards in Nashville,… (Jason Kempin / Getty Images )
Country music is all about the song, as people in Nashville like to say, making song of the year one of the key honors at any country music award ceremony. That honor went Thursday at the 46th Country Music Assn. Awards to "Over You," an intensely emotional tribute to lost loved ones written and sung by husband-wife stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert.
"I lost my brother in a car wreck when I was 14 years old," Shelton said in accepting the award with Lambert at his side, wiping away tears. "Later in life when I decided I wanted to be a country singer, my dad always told me, 'Son, you should write a song about your brother.' I lost my dad in January, and it's so amazing to me that even after he’s gone, he’s still right."
Eric Church’s “Chief” was selected as album of the year. “I spent a lot of my career wondering where I fit in: too country, too rock?” Church said. “I want to thank you guys for giving me someplace to hang my hat. I appreciate that very much.”
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The first award of the telecast was a surprise single of the year award to Nashville quartet Little Big Town’s “Pontoon,” a big-beat ode to relaxing on the water. It trumped Church’s “Springsteen” (his ode to an iconic rocker), Jason Aldean’s hip-hop-tinged “Dirt Road Anthem,” Shelton’s sweeping ballad “God Gave Me You,” Dierks Bentley’s reflective “Home.”
Thompson Square, relative newcomer with the husband-wife team Keifer and Shawna Thompson, upset veterans Sugarland and Big & Rich as well as freshman acts the Civil Wars and Love and Theft in being named duo of the year.
Going into the awards, Church led with five nominations, Miranda Lambert and Shelton were tied at four apiece, while Aldean, Bentley and Taylor Swift had three nominations each.
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Vying for the CMA’s top award of entertainer of the year are Aldean, Chesney, Shelton, Swift and the show’s co-host, Brad Paisley.
Female vocalist contenders are Lambert, Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Martina McBride and Paisley’s partner hosting the ceremony, Carrie Underwood. Male vocalist nominees are Aldean, Church, Shelton, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban.
The ceremony takes place this year at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, with Paisley and Underwood handling hosting duties for the fifth consecutive year. Winners are determined by balloting among 11,000 members of the Nashville-based CMA, whose membership includes musicians, producers, record company, radio and other music-industry professionals.
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