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The 2011 CMA Awards

Our Country

The 45th annual Country Music Association Awards came preapproved with the promise of lots of interesting moments--a nominees list filled with new blood, a tribute to the legendary Glen Campbell, Lionel Richie on stage, Faith Hill's first CMAs performance in several years.

But it was an old--well, not that old, but familiar, anyway--name that ultimately took the top honor of the night. Taylor Swift, who remained in her seat for the duration of the show, finally reigned triumphant at the end by taking home the night's coveted entertainer of the year award.

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Taylor Swift

This was undeniably a big deal for Swift, who was shut out of the awards last year and was also up against stiff competition in the entertainer category (including trendy but undeniably wild cards Jason Aldean, who upset her for the album of the year award; and Blake Shelton).

Aside from Swift's win, the night cast a spotlight on Aldean, a new face to the CMAs nominated in a pretty amazing five categories; as well as newer upstarts the Band Perry, who managed to steal a good portion of the telecast with their single, song, and new artist of the year awards (as well as singer Kimberly Perry's glittering red gown).

Also gaining attention were husband-and-wife country couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, both of whom won respective male and female vocalist of the year awards for the second year in a row. "It's gonna be a good night," Lambert stated when accepting her award, while her husband gleefully rubbed his hands together in the audience.

The show also boasted a well-publicized slate of attention-grabbing performances, not the least of which was Faith Hill's debut of new music during her first time on the CMA Awards stage in five years. The song she performed, "Come Home," was a bit drowned by uneven production and didn't sound especially country, but was warmly received by the audience.

Other performances of note included a tribute from Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, and Keith Urban to the great Glen Campbell, who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Campbell gave a thumbs-up in the audience to the trio's medley of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix, "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston," and even joined them on stage briefly (he did not sing, merely hugged everyone on stage and strummed a guitar for a minute).

Additionally, Lionel Richie, who is slated to release an album of duets with country stars, performed a medley of his own hits with Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, and Rascal Flatts.

The show was opened with a bang by Blake Shelton performing "Footloose" along with the original cut-loose man, Kenny Loggins himself.

Four-time hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood kept the show humming along with their time-proven charisma, making jokes about everyone from Hank Williams Jr. (who opened the night with a hilarious deadpan reaction to Paisley and Underwood's spoof on his recent controversial appearance on Fox News), to Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw's new Barbie dolls--complete with "Are these anatomically correct?" quips.

Check out a gallery of red-carpet fashions from the night here.

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