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CMA Awards: George Strait CMA entertainer of the year (NEW: Link to video of Luke Bryan interview)

Double-nominee Luke Bryan of Leesburg performs moving memorial tribute to brother and sister

Luke Bryan of Leesburg sings "Drink a Beer," a moving memorial to his brother and sister Chris and Kelly, at the 47th annual Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night at Bashville. (Reuters)

Luke Bryan of Leesburg sings "Drink a Beer," a moving memorial to his brother and sister Chris and Kelly, at the 47th annual Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night at Bashville. (Reuters)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - George Strait won the coveted entertainer of the year prize at the Country Music Association awards on Wednesday, while Blake Shelton took home the album of the year and male vocalist of the year awards.

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George Strait took home top honors at the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday, claiming the Entertainer of the Year Award. (Reuters)

Strait, 61, won the top prize for the third time and for the first time since 1990. Strait, who has said he will retire from touring next year, has won 17 CMA awards.

THE CMA WINNERS

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR: George Strait

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Blake Shelton

FEMALE VOCALIST: Miranda Lambert

VOCAL GROUP: Little Big Town

SINGLE: "Cruise," Georgia Florida Line

ALBUM: "Based On a True Story," Blake Shelton

SONG: "I Drive Your Truck," Lee Brice (Written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary)

VOCAL DUO: Georgia Florida Line

MUSICIAN: Mac McAnally (guitar)

MUSIC VIDEO: Highway Don't Care, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

NEW ARTIST: Kacey Musgraves

"What? Oh my gosh, never in a million years," a surprised Strait said accepting the award. "This blows me away, I cannot believe it. ... This means the world to me I appreciate it."

Strait, who shot to prominence in 1981 with a back-to-roots sound, released his 27th album, "Love Is Everything," this year.

Shelton, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan of Leesburg, Ga., were also nominated for entertainer of the year.

Luke Bryan discusses the losses of his brother, Chris, and sister, Kelly, in Spotlight with Robin Roberts ... See it here.

Shelton, who has become a crossover star since joining the judging panel on the TV singing contest "The Voice" in 2011, was honored as male vocalist of the year and album of the year for "Based on a True Story..."

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Singer Luke Bryan, center, performs with Brian Kelley, left, and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line at the 47th Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tenn. (Reuters)

"I mentioned earlier today that if there was one award that would mean the most to me tonight it would be album of the year," Shelton said in accepting the award.

Shelton, who won entertainer of the year last year, has taken home a total of eight CMA awards. His wife, Miranda Lambert, won the female vocalist of the year award.

Florida Georgia Line, a duo comprised of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, won its first two CMA awards as up-tempo love song "Cruise" grabbed single of the year and the group won the best vocal duo award.

Florida Georgia Line, which has ridden the success of their 2012 album, "Here's to the Good Times," also helped kick off the awards show from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

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Miranda Lambert wins the Female Vocalist of the Year Award at the CMA Awards Wednesday night. (Reuters)

GEORGE JONES REMEMBERED

The group emerged from the audience to help Bryan open the telecast, singing "Cruise" and Bryan's hit "That's My Kind of Night."

The awards ceremony also featured tributes to Kenny Rogers, who was given a lifetime achievement award, and George Jones, who died in April.

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CAM Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton stands with wife Miranda Lambert, who won the Female Vocalist of the Year Award, at the Country Music Association's annual awards show Wednesday at Nashville, Tenn. (Reuters)

Strait and singer Alan Jackson took the stage and in tribute played Jones' 1980 song "He Stopped Loving Her Today," which many consider one of the greatest country songs.

Swift was given the Pinnacle Award for spreading country music to a wider audience.

She received a video tribute that included congratulations from singers Mick Jagger and Justin Timberlake and actress Julia Roberts.

"Thank you, thank you, I love you, you make me feel so special right now," Swift said, fighting back tears while addressing her family, fans and music colleagues.

Hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley gave the awards ceremony a tongue-in-cheek tenor with an introduction that poked fun at feuding artists. The two singers also played comedic renditions of the 1975 pop hit "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War and pop singer Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines."

Swift performed an acoustic version of her song "Red" with Alison Krauss and other musicians. Eric Church also played his hit "The Outsiders" while pyrotechnics blazed in the background.

The show also saw performances by trio Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, group Rascal Flatts and Darius Rucker, among others.

Newcomer Kacey Musgraves won new artist of the year.

"This first year has been just indescribable," Musgraves said. "I can't even begin to put into words how much I appreciate the love from not only country music but every other genre."


EARLIER REPORTS

NASHVILLE -- George Strait was the big winner Wednesday night when he took home the Entertainer of the Year Award at the Country Music Association's 47th annual awards.

Leesburg's Luke Bryan, who performed a moving memorial, "Drink a Beer," to his brother and sister, was a contender for the top award, and also for the Male Vocalist of the Year Award that was won by Blake Shelton. Miranda Lambert took home the Female Vocalist of the Year Award.

A list of the winners is below.

THE WINNERS

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR: George Strait

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Blake Shelton

FEMALE VOCALIST: Miranda Lambert

VOCAL GROUP: Little Big Town

SINGLE: "Cruise," Georgia Florida Line

ALBUM: "Based On a True Story," Blake Shelton

SONG: "I Drive Your Truck," Lee Brice (Written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary)

VOCAL DUO: Georgia Florida Line

MUSICIAN: Mac McAnally (guitar)

MUSIC VIDEO: Highway Don't Care, Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban

NEW ARTIST: Kacey Musgraves


George Strait wins entertainer of the year.


Blake Shelton wins fourth vocalist of the year, saying "I swear I didn't think this would happen." Leesburg's Luke Bryan was a nominee and is still in running for entertainer of the year.


Luke Bryan of Leesburg performs song dedicated to brother and sister Chris and Kelly, "Drink a Beer."


Miranda Lambert wins female vocalist of the year award.


Kenny Rogers is being honored for his long career with the Willie Nelson Award. Darius Rucker sings "The Gambler," then Rogers takes the mic to perform "Islands in the Stream" with Jennifer Nettles.


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Zac Brown, left, with Dave Grohl performs "Day For the Dead" at the 47th Country Music Association Awards in Nashville.


George Strait and Alan Jackson sing tribute to the late George Jones, starting with "He Stopped Loving Her Today."


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Taylor Swift accepts the Pinnacle Award at the CMA awards Wednesday. (Reuters)

Taylor Swift accepts the CMA Pinnacle award at the 47th Country Music Association Awards.


Little Big Town named vocal group of the year.


(Reuters) Florida Georgia Line and newcomer Kacey Musgraves were the early winners on Wednesday at the Country Music Association awards, one of the industry's most coveted honors.

Florida Georgia Line's love song "Cruise" beat out competition from Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker and Musgraves for the single of the year, and the band also won for best vocal duo of the year.

Musgraves, 25, took home the award for new artist of the year on the success of her album "Same Trailer Different Park," her fourth studio album but first with a major record label.

It was the first CMA wins for both Florida Georgia Line and Musgraves.

Florida Georgia Line, which has ridden the success of their 2012 album, "Here's to the Good Times," also helped kick off the awards show from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

The group emerged from the audience to help entertainer of the year nominee Luke Bryan open the telecast, singing "Cruise" and Bryan's hit "That's My Kind of Night."

The song of the year award, which honors songwriting, was given to Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary for "I Drive Your Truck" and performed by Lee Brice.

Hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley gave the awards ceremony a tongue-in-cheek tenor with an introduction that poked fun at feuding artists. The two singers also played comedic renditions of the 1975 pop hit "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War and pop singer Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines."

Crossover star Taylor Swift and Musgraves lead CMA nominees with six nods each. Husband-and-wife singers Blake Shelton and Lambert each picked up five nominations.

Jason Aldean, George Strait, Shelton, Swift and Bryan are the nominees for entertainer of the year, the night's top prize.