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Country Music Association Salutes Achievers

Country music's biggest annual event, the Country Music Association Awards have been taking place since 1967, with Eddy Arnold receiving the first award for Entertainer of the Year. In 2012, Blake Shelton received that honor, while scooping up the award for Male Vocalist and sharing the Song of the Year award with his wife, Miranda Lambert, who also received the award for Female Vocalist of the year. The award-winning country music star revealed that the award he shares with his wife for the song Over You is particularly meaningful, as it is about his brother Richie who died in a car accident fifteen years ago, noting that for him as a songwriter, the song is about as personal as he could get.

Shelton expressed his surprise at receiving the top honor of Entertainer of the Year, but was clearly thrilled, reportedly saying, "I don't know how this happened. I freaking love it though." He was particularly stunned to win the award, as the category included Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney.

Other award winners included the quartet Little Big Town with single of the year for Pontoon and the award for Vocal Group. Shawna and Keifer Thompson, the duo called Thompsons Square, won Vocal Duo of the year, putting an end to the five-year run Sugarland has enjoyed in that category. Eric Church won the Album of the Year award for Chief, noting in his acceptance speech that he had spent a lot of career wondering where he fit in, and the recognition from the country music community had given him a place to 'hang his hat'.

New Artist of the Year went to Hunter Hayes, with Toby Keith taking honors for Video of the Year for Red Solo Cup and Tim McGraw and Chesney receiving the award for Musical Event for Party Like a Rock Star.

The entertainment for the evening featured Eric Church, along with Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan performing Aldean's new song The Only Way I Know for which they received a standing ovation. Each of these popular musicians returned later in the show to perform solo. Little Big Town performed Pontoon and Taylor Swift performed Begin Again. Willie Nelson led a sing-along of his much-loved song On the Road Again after receiving a salute from Blake Shelton, Time McGraw, Faith Hill, Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum for his award for Lifetime Achievement.

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