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Top 10 Moments from the CMA Awards

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift accepts award for Entertainer of the Year at the 45th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 9, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

The 45th Annual CMA Awards is in the books and it was another year to remember. Two artists took home their first CMA honors, a living legend was honored by three of country music’s biggest stars and another superstar made her return to the CMA stage for the first time in five years, just to name a few of the highlights. In no particular order, here are our Top 10 Moments from this year’s CMA Awards:

Taylor Swift – Taylor took home the biggest prize of the night when her name was called for Entertainer of The Year for the second time. “I am so happy right now!” Taylor exclaimed after accepting her award from Reba McEntire. Taylor thanked the artists who joined her for special appearances during her tour, reading each of their names from a list on her arm. She also thanked her fans for filling arenas and stadiums across the country night after night. “I’m so happy we had so many to play for this year,” she said. “You have made my year. Thank you so much!” Taylor also debuted new music during the show, performing “Ours” acoustically.

The Band Perry – It was a big night for The Band Perry, who won their first  CMA awards, taking home three trophies by the end of the night.  The sibling trio won Single of the Year for their hit “If I Die Young” and Kimberly Perry was honored as the track’s songwriter  with the Song of the Year award. “Thank you to the beautiful fans of country music,” Kimberly said while accepting the Single of the Year trophy. “It is the joy of our whole lives to sing this song night after night.”

The trio also won the CMA for New Artist of the Year. “We just wanted to thank everybody so much for the last few years that you’ve given my brothers and me,” Kimberly said with her brothers, Neil and Reid Perry, by her side. “We promise to keep working hard every day out on the road and here at home in Nashville to continue to earn this award. Thank you so much for the honor of tonight.”

Jason Aldean – Always a nominee but never a winner, Jason finally heard his name called. Jason took home two awards, one for Musical Event of the Year for “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” his duet with Kelly Clarkson, as well as the coveted Album of the Year award for his triple platinum My Kinda Party. A visibly-moved Jason thanked his wife Jessica for “putting up with my schedule and everything that’s been going on over the past few years” while accepting his Album of the Year trophy. He also thanked his producer, Michael Knox, and gave a shout out to his daughters, saying he hoped they were in bed soon.

“I definitely think Album of the Year is a big one,” Jason said backstage. “From the guys who play on every song to the producer to the management to the label. It’s kind of a group win. To me, it’s big. Hopefully this album will be around long after I’m gone.”

See photos from this year’s CMA Awards Red Carpet! >>

Glen Campbell TributeVince Gill, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley teamed up for a moving tribute to country music legend Glen Campbell. The three performed a medley of Glen’s hits “By the Time I Get To Oklahoma,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston” with Jimmy Webb, the man who penned the songs, joining in on piano. Glen, who announced earlier this year he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and embarked on his farewell tour, sang along in the audience before joining the group onstage. “It was awesome, it really was,” Glen said backstage after the performance. “The whole thing was just wonderful.”

Carrie Underwood & Brad Paisley – Brad and Carrie returned as hosts for the 4th year in a row and left no current event in pop culture untouched. They opened the show with a hilarious parody of “Are You Ready For Some Football?,” a direct hit on Hank Williams Jr.’s controversial comments about the President earlier this year. Hank Jr. himself  joined in on the fun for another parody, this one of his song “Family Tradition.” Justin Bieber’s baby drama and Kim Kardashian’s short-lived marriage were also targets. The highlight, however, was Brad and Carrie’s hosting gifts to one another – Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Barbie Dolls which, after examining them with their backs to the audience, were determined to be anatomically incorrect.

Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert – One of country music’s favorite couples kept their his-and-her titles of Male and Female Vocalist, picking up the awards for the second year running. “I really didn’t prepare anything to say at all,” Blake said while accepting his Male Vocalist of the Year award. “I didn’t think y’all would let me get away with this two times.” Miranda shared similar sentiments. “I did not expect to get this at all,” she said, before saying her thank yous, including one to Blake. “It’s going to be a good night tonight, baby!” she exclaimed from the stage.

See photos from this year’s CMA Awards! >>

Faith Hill – Faith is back! Faith made her return to the CMA stage as a performer for the first time in 5 years, debuting her new single, “Come Home.” The song was aptly titled as Faith looked right at home on stage as she belted out the soulful sounding ballad and was welcomed back with a hefty round of applause and a standing ovation. The song was shipped out to country radio simultaneously with her CMA performance.

Lionel Richie – Lionel Richie was joined by Little Big Town, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts to preview some of the tracks on his upcoming country duets album, Tuskegee. LBT paired with Lionel on “Deep River Woman,” Darius joined him for “Stuck On You” and Rascal Flatts helped close down the medley with “Dancing On The Ceiling.” Lionel spoke about the making of the album backstage after his performance. “It came about because R & B and country are real, it’s just one of those things that worked out,” he said.

New Artists – All five New Artist of the Year nominees had their chance to perform on the CMA Awards stage, showcasing their talents on a national level. Eric Church was up first in a three-nominee medley and donned his signature aviators for a performance of his current single, “Drink In My Hand.” Thompson Square followed him with their No. 1 hit “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” while Chris Young finished off the round with his No. 1 single “Voices.” Luke Bryan gave a rousing performance of “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” with a army of dancers to back up the song’s lyrics and The Band Perry kept it simple but unique when they wrapped up the New Artist nominees performances with their current single “All Your Life” against a gypsy caravan backdrop.

Duets – Duets were a recurring theme during this year’s CMA Awards. Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter performed their CMA-nominated hit “You And Tequila” which won the CMA Award for Video of the Year, while Rascal Flatts was joined by Natasha Bedingfield for “Easy.” Brad and Carrie performed “Remind Me” in addition to their hosting duties and Sugarland debuted a new song, “Run,” with with their friend Matt Nathanson. Zac Brown Band also had a special guest with Gregg Allman joining them on a cover of “Georgia On My Mind.” Blake Shelton, who opened the show, was joined by Kenny Loggins for “Footloose.”

GAC’s Top 20 Country Countdown was at the CMA Awards. Tune in on Friday at 8/7 CT as guest host Storme Warren catches up with some of country’s biggest stars on the red carpet and backstage!

Tell us — what was your favorite CMA moment?

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