Carrie Underwood was named the first-ever American Country Awards artist of the year tonight, as Fox debuted its fan-voted country music awards show live from Las Vegas.
The Checotah native earned five other prizes at the inaugural ACAs, including female artist of the year, touring artist of the year, album of the year for “Play On” and single and music of the year by a female artist for “Cowboy Casanova.” She was lucky in Vegas, winning all six awards for which she was nominated.
“I’d like to thank God for giving all the artists, all the people in this room, and all the fans watching back home and myself the biggest love for the best music in the world, country music,” Underwood said, cradling the Fender Stratocaster guitars the ACAs handed out in lieu of trophies.
“We have had the most amazing year out on the road, and of course, we wouldn’t be doing anything if there weren’t people sitting out there in the audience. So to everybody that came out to see us (or) anybody else out here, you guys are awesome supporting us like you do. God bless the fans.”
It was the second time this year Underwood has taken home the top prize at a country music awards show. She was named entertainer of the year at April’s Academy of Country Music Awards, also staged inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas.
Both are fan-voted prizes, proving the 2005 “American Idol” winner still knows how to marshal her fervent fan base when it comes time to cast ballots.
The ACAs became the fourth country music awards show of the year, after the ACMs, June’s Country Music Television Awards and last month’s Country Music Association Awards.
The new show experienced obvious growing pains, with some of its numerous performances cut short as it came close to running over its two-hour time slot. Although she won six awards, Underwood took the stage only once; Brad Paisley’s male artist of the year win wasn’t even announced on air.
Ada native Blake Shelton, who gave the opening performance, and show host Trace Adkins earned the music video and music video by a male artist prizes for the mini-movie to their raucous chart-topping duet “Hillbilly Bone.” But the ornery host informed Shelton that the show was over on time and proceeded to thank the Tishomingo resident’s fans, fiancee Miranda Lambert and himself on Shelton’s behalf.
When Adkins gave Shelton the chance to say one thank you, the befuddled Oklahoman jokingly expressed his gratitude for air.
Norman resident Toby Keith was honored as a Video Visionary and played his cinematic new single “Bullets in the Gun.” Rascal Flatts, which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney, earned the Decade Award, and the band performed a medley of its hits.
Venerable star Alan Jackson also played a medley of a few of his 34 chart-toppers before accepting the Greatest Hits honor.
Newcomer Easton Corbin and hot trio Lady Antebellum went into the show tied with a leading seven nominations each. Lady A won group of the year along with single of the year, single by a group and music video by a group for the smash “Need You Now.”
Corbin earned three Fenders for breakthrough artist, along with single and music video by a breakthrough artist for his hit “A Little More Country Than That.”
Josh Turner garnered the single of the year by a male artist for the country radio favorite “Why Don’t We Just Dance.”
Other stars with Oklahoma ties to earn ACA nominations included Lambert, Brooks & Dunn, and Reba McEntire, who performed her latest hit “Turn on the Radio.” Tulsa comic Rodney Carrington was one of the show’s presenters.
For more on the American Country Awards, go to my live blog of the event by clicking here.