You have made my year!" That was Taylor Swift's reaction to being named Entertainer of the Year for the second time Wednesday night at the 45th annual CMA Awards, which aired live from Nashville on ABC.
Swift now joins Barbara Mandrell as the only other female artist in CMA history ever to be named Entertainer of the Year twice. "I'm so happy right now!," gushed Taylor from the podium. "This is thanks to all the fans who filled up those stadiums and arenas all over the world this year."
The pop country star then proceeded to thank all the artists who've joined her onstage for her Speak Now tour, reading the names off her arm, where she'd scrawled them with a marker. That impressive list of names ranged from pop stars like Justin Bieber and Jason Mraz, to rappers like Nelly and T.I., to fellow country stars like Tim McGraw.
While Taylor snagged the evening's most prestigious award, the night's big winner was The Band Perry, who scooped up three trophies, including New Artist of the Year, and both Song and Single of the Year for their smash hit "If I Die Young." Accepting the Song of the Year trophy was Kimberly Perry, who wrote "If I Die Young."
"I truly believe that [the song] would've been written with or without me. It just always felt like a song that was meant to be here," Perry said.
The night's other winners included country's current power couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. The two, who wed earlier this year, each picked up their second straight CMA Male and Female Vocalist of the Year awards.
"The Voice" coach said he hadn't prepared anything, adding, "I didn't think y'all would let me get away with this two times!" Miranda also expressed surprise at her win, saying, "Seriously?" Addressing her husband in the audience, she said, "It's gonna be a gooood night tonight, baby!"
Jason Aldean scored two wins, picking up the Album of the Year award for My Kinda Party, and the Musical Event of the Year trophy for his duet with Kelly Clarkson, "Don't You Wanna Stay." Sugarland took home their fifth win in the Vocal Duo category, and dedicated it to their fans, especially the "good folks of Indiana." Over the summer a number of fans were killed when the group's stage collapsed during the Indiana State Fair due to high winds.
Lady Antebellum, meanwhile, scored their third straight win as Vocal Group of the Year.
As usual, the CMA telecast was packed with great performances from country's biggest stars, but there was a strong pop/rock music presence on this year's show, starting with the opening number, which saw Blake Shelton being joined by Kenny Loggins for a rendition of "Footloose." British pop star Natasha Bedingfield sang a duet with Rascal Flatts on the song "Easy," and pop singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson performed his song "Run" with Sugarland, with whom he co-wrote the track.
Pop legend Lionel Richie was also on hand to promote his upcoming country album Tuskegee by performing duets on three of his classic tunes with Little Big Town, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts. Rock legend Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers even made an appearance, sitting in with the Zac Brown Band on the standard "Georgia."