LAS VEGAS (AP) – Leading nominee Tim McGraw took home honors for best single and song Tuesday for “Live Like You Were Dying” at the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss also grabbed two trophies for their haunting duet “Whiskey Lullaby,” for best video and vocal event. Paisley said he had initially been concerned that radio wouldn’t play the song because of its dark themes.

“It’s death and drinking. It’s summertime for God’s sake,” he said.

Keith Urban accepted the top album honor for his “Be Here” by satellite from Belfast, Ireland.

“I’m blown away,” Urban said. “It’s like 20 to 2 in the morning, but this is the best wake-up call I’ve ever had.”

Spunky newcomer Gretchen Wilson, who had the breakout hit of the year with “Redneck Woman,” was named top new artist.

“For the last year I’ve just kind of been winging it,” she said. “This means the world to me.”

Wilson wore jeans and a tank top as she kicked off the show with a lively rendition of “Here for the Party,” the title song of her quadruple-platinum debut album.

McGraw was nominated for six awards, most them stemming from the “Live Like You Were Dying,” about living life to its fullest. It has special meaning for the singer because his father, former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Tug McGraw, died of cancer last year.

McGraw’s nominations included top male vocalist and song of the year. His wife, Faith Hill, was set to return to the ACMs after a five-year hiatus with a performance of “Mississippi Girl.”

Krauss and newlywed Kenny Chesney followed McGraw with five nods each, while Toby Keith, Paisley and Urban had four apiece. Keith, the reigning entertainer of the year, was a nominee for the award again this year along with McGraw, Chesney, Urban and Brooks & Dunn.

Chesney’s earnest performance of “Anything But Mine” evoked his surprise wedding to Renee Zellweger last week. The stars of Nashville and Hollywood tied the knot on the Caribbean island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they were photographed barefoot on the beach. The song includes the line “she has to feel the sand beneath her feet.”

Chesney also was nominated for male vocalist, album of the year and a pair of vocals – a duet with Uncle Kracker, “When the Sun Goes Down,” and the remake of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’,” with Jimmy Buffett, George Strait, Clint Black, Alan Jackson and Keith.

Big & Rich, Rascal Flatts and Lee Ann Womack received three nominations each.

Trophies were being presented in only 12 categories over three hours, allowing the performance-driven CBS telecast from the Mandalay Bay Resort to focus as much on entertainment as awards.

The honors were determined by the 3,000 members of the California-based academy, except for the humanitarian and video awards, which were decided by fans.

Charlie Nagatani earlier received the Jim Reeves Memorial Award. Nagatani has been performing country music since 1956 and created the Country Gold music festival in 1989, the first country festival in Japan.



On the Net:

Academy of Country Music: http://www.acmcountry.com


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