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Couples Shine At Country Awards

Shania Twain was named entertainer of the year and the Dixie Chicks won group and album prizes for Fly at the 35th annual Academy of Country Music Awards Wednesday night.

Among the presenters was Early Show Co-Anchor Jane Clayson, who gave the award for Song of the Year to Lone Star for Amazed, which also won as Best Single.

So reporting on the event for The Early Show was country music hitmaker Tracy Lawrence, who asked Faith Hill which moment was most special for her at the awards show. She said it was singing a duet with her husband, Tim McGraw.

"We haven't done that together since It's Your Love, which has been several years ago. That was thrilling," she explained. "I wanted to take him home right that minute and not go sit down again."

In general, it was a big night for couples. McGraw won male vocalist of the year, and Hill won female vocalist of the year and top video. The 3,000-member academy also voted the duet When I Said I Do by Clint Black and actress-wife Lisa Hartman Black as the vocal event of the year. Black hadn't won an ACM trophy since 1990.

"I've been telling her for a month it's not going to be us so don't worry," Black said, adding it "was a true awards show moment" for him to see his wife's face when their name was called.

It was the second consecutive album award for the Dixie Chicks, who are Martie Seidel, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison. The trio's Wide Open Spaces won last year.

Fly also won the country album Grammy earlier this year.

Dolly Parton, host of the three-hour CBS-TV show, arrived on stage at the Universal Amphitheatre with a hearty, "Howdy!" It was her first outing as show host -- a role she filled with self-described "tacky" remarks.

"We're both 35 years old. Well, parts of me are anyway," said Parton, decked out in a sequined gown.

Taking a major country music controversy head on, George Strait and Alan Jackson led off the night's performances with Murder on Music Row, the "someone killed country music" ditty that asserts traditional country sound has been drowned out by money-grubbing pop leanings.

The show's performances had a traditionalist flair that included songs by George Jones, Asleep at the Wheel and a banjo-picking blue grass tune by Parton.

The new male vocalist winner was Brad Paisley and top new female was Jessica Andrews. The new duo or group trophy went to Montgomery Gentry.

The fast-paced West Coast salute to Nashville is traditionally one of the entertainment industry's most performance-filled awards shows. Producer Dick Clark rehearsed 30 acts for the broadcast.

For the first time in recent memory, the show was Garth-less. Garth Brooks, declared the country music artist of the decade last year, didn't get any nominations this year and didn't attend the show.

The show eatured presentation of the Pioneer Award to Tammy Wynette, the first time the academy has given the award posthumously. Trisha Yearwood introduced the tribute to Wynette, who she called "the original country music diva."

Parton, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride and Naomi Judd and daughter Wynonna sang Wynette's signature song Stand By Your Man.

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