LAS VEGAS - Kenny Chesney is country music's entertainer of the year for a fourth year in a row.
Chesney took top honors at the 43d Annual Academy of Country Music Awards yesterday. He tied Garth Brooks and trails only Alabama, which won five in a row.
Fans' votes decided the award for the first time this year. Other categories were decided by ACM members.
"This one is really extra special because long before I had a hit record the fans always came to my show, and I want to thank you guys for voting and being there for me," he said. Chesney was the leading nominee with 11.
Miranda Lambert won album of the year and Sugarland took single record and song of the year honors for their mellow hit "Stay."
"I'm sitting right behind Kenny Chesney and I just don't feel right taking this," said Lambert, who won for her sophomore outing,
The win was big for Lambert, who beat out Chesney and Brad Paisley, as well as hot new acts Rodney Atkins and Taylor Swift, who was raised in Wyomissing, Pa.
Swift won top new female vocalist. The 18-year-old thanked her mother for going on the road with her beginning when she was 16, leaving behind a comfortable life to sleep in rental cars and on airplanes so her daughter could pursue her dream.
"I love you. This is for you," she said, fighting back tears.
Members of Sugarland acknowledged that "Stay" wasn't exactly the kind of song that was created for commercial or awards success. "Thanks everybody for believing in a song that's almost a five-minute acoustic song," Kristian Bush said.
Jack Ingram won top new male vocalist. The 37-year-old Texan released his first album in 1992 and bounced around between a number of record labels before his career took off. "Sometimes it takes a long time and that's my story," Ingram said backstage.
Lady Antebellum took home top new duo or vocal group. "Does this mean we get to hang out with Kenny Chesney now?," the trio's Charles Kelley joked.
Brad Paisley's "Online" won video of the year. It was produced by former
star Jason Alexander.
Tracy Lawrence won vocal event of the year for "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" with Tim McGraw and Chesney. "This is absolutely awesome," Lawrence said.
Hosted by Reba McEntire, the awards were aired live from the MGM Grand.