Taylor Swift won her second consecutive entertainer of the year award at the Academy of Country Music Awards last night, just 24 hours after she was saluted by first lady Michelle Obama for her charity work on The Kids’ Choice Awards.
Even by Swift’s standards, it was an outstanding weekend – though tempered with a little melancholy.
After hugging her way to the stage, she took a moment to say hello to Kevin McGuire and his family. McGuire, a high school football player and Swift fan who has cancer, was to have been Swift’s date to the awards, but he was in hospital and could not attend.
“He’s not here but I promised him I would give him a shoutout,” Swift said of the New Jersey teenager.
The 22-year-old Swift becomes just the second woman to win the award twice after Carrie Underwood accomplished that feat. She beat out an all-male field that included Kenny Chesney, who was shut out at the awards after leading all nominees with nine nods.
Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson were the night’s top winners with two awards apiece.
Swift did not perform but was an oft-acknowledged presence. In the monologue co-hosts Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton wondered about that rumored date with Tim New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. She also was a presenter. Swift was given The Big Help Award by Mrs Obama in Los Angeles just a day earlier.
“I’m so happy about this,” Swift said after thanking her followers for giving her the fan-voted award. “I want to say to my fellow nominees in this category I respect you so much and I love you.”
Lambert shouted “Seriously?” to her fans as she picked up the trophy for “Four the Record.” It was her third album of the year win, tying her with Alabama and George Strait, and she also picked up her third female vocalist of the year, scoring a family sweep as her husband Blake Shelton won male vocalist.
“I own every record in this category and I’ve been listening and listening, thinking I’m not going to get it,” said Lambert, who got a hug from her grandmother and close friends Lady Antebellum before accepting her award. “Every record is amazing, and I’m so thrilled. I will never take this trophy for granted. My albums are my babies. It’s what makes me wake up in the mornings.”
Lambert’s album win was not the only surprise of the evening. The Eli Young Band’s smash “Crazy Girl” brought the Texas quartet its first win in Las Vegas, for song of the year, and it was something of an upset over superstar acts like Chesney and Lady Antebellum (though the trio did win vocal group of the year). EYB lead singer Mike Eli hoped the group’s win was an inspiration for people who hope to someday do the same thing.
“I have dreamed this moment my whole life and I can speak for the rest of these guys up here that they have, too,” Eli said. “For those of you watching on television, if you’re sitting here and thinking, ’I’m dreaming about this moment and I want to be here,’ follow your dreams believe in yourself and do it.”
It was the second big upset of the awards: Thompson Square took vocal duo of the year over Sugarland in an early award. “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery won the fan-voted new artist of the year. Toby Keith won video of the year for “Red Solo Cup.”