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Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood speak onstage at the 46th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn.
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Date published: 11/2/2012
AP Music Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Blake Shelton is entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards.
"The Voice" star won the award for the first time Thursday night, beating out previous winners Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift and fellow nominee Jason Aldean.
It was the third win of an emotional night and caps one of country's best career reboots.
Earlier in the evening, Shelton and wife Miranda Lambert won song of the year.
As Lambert openly wept on stage, Shelton recounted for the ABC television audience how the loss of his older brother, Richie, and father, Dick, spurred the couple to write the heart-rending song.
"My dad always told me, 'Son, you should write a song about your brother,'" Shelton said. "I lost my dad in January, and it's so amazing to me that tonight, even after he's gone, he's still right. I just needed the right person to write this song with and the right person to sing it."
The 36-year-old Oklahoma native had reached a stagnant point in his career, but started to climb again about three years ago with a series of hit singles, his marriage to fellow country star Miranda Lambert and his appearance in the spinning chair on "The Voice."
Eric Church won prestigious honor album of the year for his breakthrough record, "Chief," signaling his complete acceptance by the country music community.
"I spent a lot of my career wondering where I fit in--too country, too rock," Church told the crowd. "I want to thank you guys for giving me somewhere to hang my hat tonight."
The North Carolina native was this year's leading nominee, breaking through in prestigious categories for the first time. Yet no one was more surprised than Church, who said he certainly had no expectation of winning.
"Never, especially with our journey," Church said. "I mean our path's been a little bit different. I distinctly remember playing for eight people in Amarillo, Texas, four years ago, and to go from there to here is quite surreal."
The awards went off-script early as Little Big Town and Thompson Square earned unexpected wins.