Lady Antebellum Talk Crossover Success After Five ACM Wins

Trio wins five awards, including Song of the Year, at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night.

LAS VEGAS — Country trio Lady Antebellum continued their winning ways at Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, topping all winners with five awards, including Song of the Year and Single of the Year for the crossover smash “Need You Now” (each counted for two because they wrote and produced the song) and Top Vocal Group.

It was the capper to an already stellar 2010, during which their Need You Now album has been the top-seller so far this year and the single has crossed over to pop radio, landing them alongside Lady Gaga and Ke$ha on top 40 stations across the country.

“We’re blown away. It’s been a pretty incredible year thus far,” said guitarist Dave Haywood on the orange carpet just hours before the group began their winning night. “You just never know when you write a song and you go into the studio and record it what it’s gonna do. And honestly this song took on a new life when we went into the studio,” explained lead vocalist Hillary Scott. “Whenever we heard that this song was getting picked up and played on pop radio, we were completely shocked, but excited because that just means more people are hearing it. We want to headline tours very soon, so the more people that hear it, the better. It’s bringing light to the country music genre, which we are so proud of.”

Though they’ve had success from the very beginning of their career and picked up plenty of accolades already, including a Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals at this year’s Grammy Awards for “I Run to You,” singer Charles Kelley said “Need You Now” has taken them to a whole new level.

“That song has changed our career so dramatically,” he said, noting that attendance at the group’s shows have doubled over the past three months thanks to a tune they admitted later in the night almost didn’t make it onto the album because they weren’t sure it was good enough. “They always say the power of a song … we never knew that would be the song. Out of all the songs we’ve written, we were like, ‘Oh, wow!’ I couldn’t believe that was the song.” For now, they’re the opening act for Tim McGraw, but they have plans for their own headlining tour in the fall.

The big night began with a win for Song of the Year for “Need You Now,” which beat out tunes by Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and another big winner, Miranda Lambert. The group, who led all nominees with seven, were shocked again when they won Single Record of the Year a short time later for the same song. They went acoustic during the show for their performance of the lush ballad “American Honey,” which included a “Thank you, fans!” shout-out mid-song.

“When we wrote ‘Need You Now,’ I don’t think we knew what we had on our hands,” Kelley said afterward, noting that their label bosses insisted they put it on the album after hearing it the first time. “You never know where a song can take you, and tonight is probably the pinnacle of our career.”

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