NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Country Music Association Awards were Miranda Lambert's and Blake Shelton's party, but Brad Paisley crashed the festivities.
Lambert won three awards, including album of the year, on her 27th birthday and her fiance Shelton grabbed two. But an emotional Paisley, a young gun who's grown up in front of everyone's eyes, walked away with the coveted entertainer of the year award after five years of waiting.
"My hero Little Jimmy Dickens has a saying, that is if you see a turtle on a fencepost it had help getting up there and I'm the turtle on the fencepost at this point," Paisley said.
Country's "it" couple this year after their spring engagement, Lambert and Shelton cleaned up while winning their first CMA awards. Lambert won female vocalist of the year, album of the year for "Revolution" and video of the year for "The House That Built Me," which also scored song of the year for songwriters Tom Douglas and Allan Shamblin.
And Shelton won music event of the year for "Hillbilly Bone" with Trace Adkins before ending Paisley's string of three straight male vocalist awards.
The reaction around their night was festive.
"Ooooh, shake it up CMA," Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles said as she watched Shelton on his way to the stage after winning male vocalist.
And Paisley, who hosted the show with Carrie Underwood, joked: "After the night that Blake and Miranda are having, I think we can expect a baby in about nine months."
Lambert was the center of the show in many ways. She led all nominees with nine, performed "That's The Way That the World Goes Round" and joined Loretta Lynn and Sheryl Crow for a rendition of Lynn's classic "Coal Miner's Daughter."
Lynn handed her the female vocalist trophy.
"I'm proud that I can now call her a friend," she said before turning to Lynn. "Thank you so much," she said as she started to cry, "Thank you for everything you've done." She then shouted, "Thank you, Reba," and waved at an emotional Reba McEntire.
Shelton, who has long felt like an outsider in Nashville, gave Lambert a bear hug after his name was announced for male vocalist. He then stomped on each step as he walked up to the stage. McEntire, wife of Shelton's manager, Narvel Blackstock, cried as Shelton made his way to the stage.
"It's about 34 years worth of steps right there for me, y'all," Shelton said. "This is a really big deal for me."
Lady Antebellum had nothing to be blue about, riding their hit "Need You Now" to wins for single of the year and vocal group. The hit song about late-night hookups helped the group sell 3 million albums so far this year.
The Zac Brown Band won new artist of the year and Sugarland took vocal duo of the year. The festivities also attracted Gwyneth Paltrow, who joined Vince Gill to perform the song "Country Strong" from an upcoming movie.