Kenny Chesney nabs top country music award

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NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov 8 (Reuters) Kenny Chesney captured country music's top prize -- Entertainer of the Year -- for the third time yesterday in an awards show that also saw big wins for Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

''I love country music and I love doing what I do,'' said the 39-year-old entertainer whose tour this past summer drew more than 62 million fans.

He previously won the County Music Association's top honor in 2004 and 2006 in a 10-year career that has produced hits like ''No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems,'' ''All I Need to Know'' and ''Everywhere We Go''.

His brief 2005 marriage to actress Renee Zellweger made headlines.

Chesney also won an award for Musical Event of the Year along with Tracy Lawrence and Tim McGraw for ''Find Out Who Your Friends Are.'' Carrie Underwood, two-time Grammy winner and former ''American Idol'' star, won both the Female Vocalist of the Year and Single of the Year awards, the latter for ''Before He Cheats.'' She also won the top female vocalist honor in 2006.

''God has blessed me with so many things,'' she said. ''I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out why ... it all started for me with American Idol,'' she said of the TV talent show.

Brad Paisley was named Male Vocalist of the Year, a first for him.

''I can't tell you what this means to me,'' the 34-year-old West Virginian said. ''I've always wanted to win this award at least once.'' He also won an award for Music Video of the Year.

George Strait took Album of the Year honors for ''It Just Comes Natural'' along with producer Tony Brown.

''It still feel great. It's still a blast and I still love making records,'' the 55-year-old Texas rancher who has had a hit song every year since 1981 and more gold albums than any other country artist, told reporters backstage.

The country pop band Rascal Flatts grabbed Vocal Group of the Year honors for the fifth year in a row. With Gary LeVox, lead vocals, Jay DeMarcus, bass, guitar, piano and Joe Don Rooney, electric&steel guitar, the group last year alone sold 4.9 million albums. Their latest hit ''Still Feels Good,'' was just released.

Song of the Year honors, awarded writers and publishers, went to Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon and Jamey Johnson for ''Give It Away,'' which Strait turned into a No 1 hit.

Sugarland -- Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush -- took Vocal Duo of the Year honors.

''Online,'' performed by Paisley and directed by Jason Alexander, was named Music Video of the Year.

Seventeen-year-old Taylor Swift won the Horizon Award which recognizes new and emerging talent.

''I can't even believe this,'' a tearful Swift said clutching her award trophy. ''This is definitely the highlight of my senior year (in high school).'' REUTERS GT DS1103

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