In addition to nabbing the coveted entertainer of the year trophy, Swift won the female vocalist award and also claimed album of the year honors for Fearless and the video of the year award for
Rucker, who embarked on a solo career after multi-platinum success as lead vocalist for
Swift's acceptance speeches ranged from the humorous to the heartfelt. During her comments after her female vocalist win, she said, "I want to thank
Regarding the album of the year victory for Fearless, she said, "This album is my diary, and so to all the people who voted for me for this, thank you for saying that you like my diary. That's the nicest thing, the nicest compliment."
At age 19, Swift is the youngest person ever named the CMA's entertainer of the year.
"In this moment, everything that I have ever wanted just happened to me," she said before inviting her touring band to the stage -- and identifying each of them by name.
"They've been with me every single night this year," she said. "And the fans who come to the show with the shirts you've made for yourself and the look on your face, that's why I do this. Thank you for this moment."
Lady Antebellum's debut album contained a string of hits, but they seemed especially surprised when their name was announced in the vocal group category. Referring to three of the other nominees, vocalist Charles Kelley said, "Rascal Flatts, you've inspired us for such a long time. The
Rucker also appeared to be genuinely shocked at being named new artist of the year. He thanked members of his management team, but had special words for Capitol Nashville chief Mike Dungan, who signed him to his country recording contract.
"Everybody told you you were crazy," he said. "They told you were crazy, [that] this wouldn't work. Mike Dungan, thank you. God, thank you. To the fans, thank y'all for accepting me. And most importantly, to country radio, you took a chance on a pop singer from Charleston, S.C., and God bless y'all for that."
And if anyone thought CMA voters might take
"Well, we don't usually expect this, but we definitely didn't this year," Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles said.
She invited Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn to come to the stage to address the audience, but they declined the offer. She then told them, "Thank you for what you've done for us. Thank you for what you've done for country music. It's an honor to be in your category."
Song of the year honors went to
"I never thought y'all would even let me come to stuff like this," Johnson said. "Thanks again, ya'll. This has been an unbelievable experience. Thank you for listening to my music and letting me do what I do."
Swift opened the show with some writhing onstage as she sang "Forever and Always," but the true performance highlights of the night were a series of interesting collaborations, especially the hardcore country of Johnson and
Rock and country also melded during
The Zac Brown Band was moving at breakneck speed during a fiery version of the