Shelton, FGL, Swift early leaders at CMA Awards

Associated Press
Miranda Lambert , right, and Blake Shelton arrive at the 47th annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Blake Shelton captured album of the year at the Country music Association Awards while Florida Georgia Line's party song "Cruise" helped them cruise to two wins on Wednesday night.

"I had mentioned earlier today that if there was award that would mean the most to me tonight, it would be album of the year," said Shelton, getting serious after jokingly snatching his trophy from presenter Sheryl Crow.

Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley scored single and vocal duo of the year. Their quick tally was more proof the so-called bro country movement is the sound of the moment in mainstream country. FGL kicked off the show performing a fist-pumping medley with Luke Bryan, and very quickly returned to the stage to take the trophy for single of the year for their "Cruise" remix featuring Nelly. They also played the new song "Round Here."

Meanwhile, Kacey Musgraves — who, along with Taylor Swift, led all nominees with six — won the new artist trophy, besting a field that included Florida Georgia Line. With smart songwriting, a progressive bent and a strong sense of self like country's other top women, Musgraves made an auspicious mainstream country debut this year with her album "Same Trailer Different Park."

"This first year for me has just been undescribable," said Musgraves, who set a record for nominations for a woman in her first year on the show.

Hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley got the show going on a jovial note as they took the stage with their opening skit, first joking about feuds in music. They got Bryan and Zac Brown to hug it out after their mild feud over song trends in Nashville. They joked about Julianne Hough's misguided blackface Halloween costume, urging Darius Rucker to start his own feud with the singer. They skewered Obamacare to a Nashville audience that roared with approval.

Then, they brought out the guys from the hit show "Duck Dynasty" and parodied Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," with Willie Robertson doing a little twerk for Underwood.

Swift tied Florida Georgia Line with two trophies after her "Highway Don't Care" collaboration with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban won musical event and music video of the year before the show began. Lee Brice's "I'd Drive Your Truck," about a fallen soldier whose father still drives his truck, won song of the year.

Swift later performed a somber, acoustic version of her hit "Red" with Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Sam Bush and was given the CMA's Pinnacle Award. The award goes to artists who take country music to a worldwide audience. Garth Brooks is the only previous winner. He won in 2005.

The CMA brought a star-studded welcoming group out of stage for Swift that included George Strait, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley — all of whom gave Swift a chance to open for them on the road a teenager. A video salute followed with appearances by Justin Timberlake, Julia Roberts, Carly Simon, Ethel Kennedy and Mick Jagger — whose appearance made Swift shout.

Swift recounted a call she got out of the blue from her Big Machine Records head Scott Borchetta when she was 16.

"He said, 'Can you be on the road in two days to open for Rascal Flatts, and I immediately started screaming and said, 'This must be a miracle,'" she said. "He said, 'No, it's not a miracle. Eric Church got fired for playing too long."

She added: "You've made me fell so special right now, thank you."

Swift is nominated for her third entertainer of the year award, the night's top honor, along with Strait who's being saluted as he retires from the road. Voters could easily make an argument for any of the five entertainer of the year nominees.

Strait is the sentimental choice. Swift's popularity has helped expand the boundaries and fan base of country music. Blake Shelton is a five-time nominee who only seems to get more popular. Jason Aldean is about due for the award as a touring titan. And Bryan is arguably country's hottest star after winning the rival Academy of Country Music's entertainer trophy in April.

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Follow AP Entertainment for updates from the show: https://twitter.com/APEntertainment. Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: https://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.

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http://www.cmaawards.com

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Follow AP Entertainment for updates from the show: https://twitter.com/APEntertainment. Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: https://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.

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