Stop The Presses!

The 2009 CMA Awards: History Is Made

Stop The Presses!

The 2009 CMA Awards show was undoubtedly one of the most dramatic in years.

History was, literally, made.

The 19-year-old Taylor Swift became the youngest artist ever to win the Entertainer Of The Year award.

Not only that--Swift became the first solo female to win it in a decade, taking the torch from 1999's Shania Twain, and toppling the reign of the formidable Kenny Chesney.

Not only THAT--she also won Female Vocalist, Album of the Year, and Video of the Year.

Oh, and if Taylor Swift didn't make enough history for you?

Darius Rucker also went down in the CMA books as the first African American to win New Artist of the Year, as well as the first AA artist since Charley Pride to win a major individual award.

Incredible. Simply amazing, uplifting, laudable moves in the world of country music.

Phew. If you aren't wiping sweat off your brow by now, ain't nothing going to make you excited. This was a truly wonderful, surprising evening.

And much to this blogger's overall delight--there was plenty to be thrilled about, in addition to the feats performed by Swift and Rucker. In a show that has been somewhat mundane and predictable in past years, a breath of very fresh air seemed to circulate throughout the entire three-hour program.

A record number of new artists made their first forays into the nominations list--with critical and popular favorites Lady Antebellum winning two awards, Single of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year (a considerable steal from the mighty Rascal Flatts' multi-year streak). Another critical pick, Jamey Johnson, also picked up an award for Song of the Year.

The show's performances proved to be considerably energized and fresher than years past, and added yet more drama to the night. Standouts included a white-hot cover of the Charlie Daniels classic "Devil Went Down To Georgia" by the Zac Brown Band, the about-to-retire Brooks & Dunn's (allegedly) last-ever CMA performance joined by ZZ Top, Jamey Johnson perfectly paired with fellow outlaw-country boy Kid Rock, George Strait storming Martina McBride, and Tim McGraw making a confident appearance on the CMA stage for the first time in several years.

(Heck, that's a pretty long list of standouts--should we just say the whole performance roster was fantastic?)

Presenters ran the gamut from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a welcome moment from McGraw joined by his wife, Faith Hill.

To put a cherry on the sundae, the show provided the best kind of humor--a bit cornball, but genuinely funny. Hosts Brad Paisley (who landed the Male Vocalist win for the night) and Carrie Underwood smoothly traded quips like old pros. Underwood's finest moment came when she asked Paisley to feel her "and see if I'm hot," then burst into a parody of LeAnn Rimes's "Blue," substituting "Swine Flu." Paisley's best line came in the form of discussing how well the country community gets along: "We're like George Strait plus eight."

Nothing quite topped the amusement factor of the octogenarian country novelty singer Little Jimmy Dickens "pulling a Kanye West" by bursting on stage, cutting off Paisley's rapport, and declaring, "I'll let you finish later. I know you had a nice video and all, but Taylor Swift made the best video of all time. Of all time! You go, girl!"

Indeed, the awards show took the Kanye West-related humor far beyond that of Swift's own recent appearance on Saturday Night Live, with Underwood and Paisley performing a little ditty proclaiming "Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Kanye."

On a heartwarming note: The Veterans' Day date of the program was duly noted with several tributes to our troops. And, Sugarland, upon winning Duo of the Year, offered the mic to old-school rivals Brooks & Dunn one last time. B&D declined, but their fans all wiped a little tear away.

What a night, indeed.

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