Hunter Hayes was named new artist of the year at 46th Country Music Assn.… (Wade Payne / Associated…)
Singer, songwriter and more recently a key member of the music reality show "The Voice," Blake Shelton took entertainer of the year and male vocalist awards Thursday at the 46th Country Music Assn. Awards. He took the top award, for entertainer, in a field that also included Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift.
"Entertainer of the year--what is this?," Shelton said in accepting the show's final trophy. "I don’t know how this happened, but I freaking love it."
He and Lambert also collected song of the year honors for "Over You." A few minutes earlier, Lambert was up on the same stage picking up the female vocalist award. "I don't necessarily deserve this but I'll take it," she said before saluting other female vocalist nominees Kelly Clarkson, Martina McBride, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. "I'm going to stand up here and try to represent for all the female up-and-comers."
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The CMA's 2012 new artist of the year award went to Hunter Hayes, the 21-year-old Louisiana-bred pop-country singer who started out as a preschool YouTube sensation with his performances on the Cajun button accordion, which he's since traded for electric guitar and piano to become a rising country heartthrob.
Garth Brooks, Connie Smith, and pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins were saluted during the show as the newest round of Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.
Earlier in the show, Eric Church’s “Chief” was selected as album of the year, Miranda Lambert and husband Blake Shelton's "Over You" was named song of the year and Little Big Town scored for vocal group and single of the year for their hit "Pontoon."
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Going into the awards, Church led with five nominations, Lambert and Shelton were tied at four apiece, while Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Taylor Swift have three nominations each.
Vying for the CMA’s top award of entertainer of the year are Aldean, Shelton, Swift, Kenny Chesney and the show’s co-host, Brad Paisley.
The ceremony took 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 8,000 members of the Nashville-based CMA, whose membership includes musicians, producers, record company, radio and other music-industry professionals.
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