Carrie Underwood made history at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night, becoming the first woman to win entertainer of the year twice.
Underwood won the show's top honor last year. This year, she beat out Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban.
"I think I just got makeup all over Brad Paisley," an excited Underwood said as she went onstage to accept her trophy. "Thank you, God, praise the Lord."
Underwood also was recognized earlier in the evening with special trophy for "triple crown" of ACM wins - entertainer of the year, top female vocalist and top newcomer - in the course of her career.
Top-selling trio Lady Antebellum was the dominant winner though, grabbing five trophies. And the trio's good friend, Miranda Lambert, won three awards.
Lady A, the top-selling trio that includes Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, was the lead nominee, entering the show with seven. They snapped Rascal Flatts' seven-year run as best vocal group and won song and single record of the year for the crossover hit "Need You Now" (they got two trophies for their single record of the year win because they also produced the record, and also got two trophies for their song of the year win
because they composed it).
"It's just wild, man," Kelley said. "You never know where a song can take you, and tonight is probably the pinnacle of our career."
Adding to the emotion of the night for the group was wins by good friends Lambert and Luke Bryan. The trio broke into cheers backstage when Lambert won top female vocalist. A stunned Lambert hugged Underwood as she made her way to the stage, then read off the names of the other nominees - Underwood, Swift, Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack.
"You've got to be kidding me," she said.
She also won album of the year for "Revolution," an award Lady A openly lobbied for her to win, and video of the year for "White Liar."
Lady A also could help celebrate the win of one of the night's other winners, Luke Bryan, who nabbed top new artist. Lady A's Kelley and Haywood helped their good buddy write his hit, "Do I."
"Everything about tonight was honestly just so fun," Kelley said. "If we could've gone down the list and scripted it..."
Lambert also won top female vocalist, snapping Carrie Underwood's three-year run in that category.
Paisley, after a performance of his single "Water" where he fell backward into a pool of water on stage, won top male vocalist of the year for the fourth consecutive time.
And Brooks & Dunn, who are retiring after a summer tour, won best vocal duo for the 10th time in their two-decade long career.
"We are currently in therapy with Brett Favre trying to figure out how to waffle on this," Kix Brooks joked after the win.
The show was heavy on performances. It kicked off with Underwood and Lambert, joined on stage later by Paisley, Charlie Daniels and John Fogerty, who ripped through a rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Travelin' Band."
"That's how you start a television show, son!" shouted Daniels, who recently recovered from a stroke.
Swift, who won album of the year last year, was shut out this year, despite being nominated for five awards; it might have been the first awards show since her pop superstardom where she didn't take home a trophy. But she had a big performance: She began her rendition of "Change" while soaring over the crowd on a platform. She ripped off her white dress and reveal a black outfit underneath, made her way through the crowd and joined the Tritones, a college a capella group on stage for a spirited chorus. She then fell backward into a crowd of fans.
The Zac Brown Band - one of eight nominees for entertainer of the year - wasn't able to make a show because of a USO tour in the Middle East. But the band sent video of a performance of "Chicken Fried" from overseas that included altered lyrics aimed at the military.
Toby Keith hit an emotional note with a performance of "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song)," dedicated to his late friend, jazz artist and former basketball star Wayman Tisdale, who died last May.
The show also had its share of non-country celebrities, including LL Cool J, Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn and Las Vegas staple Cher, who goofed when she announced that Blake Shelton had already won a CMA Award - instead of an ACM - the previous evening.