Brad Paisley claimed the top prize of entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association awards Wednesday, but it was Miranda Lambert who was the big winner with three honours including female vocalist and album of the year for Revolution.
Lambert, who turned 27 on what is billed as country music's biggest night, topped off a banner 2010 in which she became engaged to singer Blake Shelton, who also was a victor at the CMAs with the award for male vocalist.
"I don't know what's going on," Lambert said, accepting her trophy for female vocalist. "I just told Blake I think we need to go to church."
Standing next to her was country legend Loretta Lynn, who was honoured by event organizers for 50 years in the industry.
"It's been 10 years since I started making music," Lambert said backstage. "I feel more level headed than I thought I would. I hope it's the beginning. I hope in 50 years I'm like Loretta Lynn."
Earlier in the show, Lambert said Revolution, whose songs include The House That Built Me and That's the Way That the World Goes 'Round, had caused "a revolution in my life."
Indeed, in the past year Lambert's popularity has soared. She entered the night as the most-nominated female singer in the history of the CMAs with nine nods, overall.
Ahead of the telecast, she won best music video for The House That Built Me, and that record also earned song of the year honours for writers Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin.
Paisley pleased the crowd with his co-hosting duties alongside Carrie Underwood and a tearful speech when accepting his trophy for the year's best country entertainer.
He thanked his family, his fans and said the night really was about honouring his grandfather, who died in 1987.
"This is a man who loved Buck Owens and he loved Johnny Cash," Paisley said. "He said, 'I want you to learn to play the guitar because this is going to get you through lonely times, and you'll never be alone with this."'
After the show, Paisley said that if ever there was a year he wanted to win his award, it was this one.
"The day before the flood in Nashville back in May, we had everything we needed to start our tour in three weeks. Two days later we had almost nothing. But in three weeks we opened the tour ... It went off without a hitch and the rest of the tour was the same," Paisley said.
In other key awards, Lady Antebellum picked up the trophy for single of the year with their mega hit Need You Now, marking the second straight year the group has won that award. The trio also nabbed the honour, vocal group of the year.
"We couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate a most incredible year in our lives," band member Hillary Scott said after the awards. "This is one for the record book for us. If nothing happens the rest of our lives this would still be incredible."
The Zac Brown Band was named new artist of the year, and the group performed their hit single, As She's Walking Away.
But when it came to performances, all eyes were on Hollywood movie star and Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, who sang the title song of her forthcoming film Country Strong.
Paltrow, who is married to rocker Chris Martin of Coldplay, sang and strummed her guitar alongside Vince Gill, turning in a solid performance that brought her a standing ovation.
She proved her mettle as a country singer after hosts Paisley and Underwood poked fun at her early in the show as just one more Hollywood star shooting for country stardom.
In their third consecutive year hosting the CMAs, Paisley and Underwood also took a comical shot at Lady Antebellum, whom Paisley jokingly confused with pop star Lady Gaga.
Other performances were by country legend George Strait, rock/country crossover artist Kid Rock, Kenny Chesney and Sugarland, who won vocal duo of the year.
In awards given ahead of the telecast, musical event of the year honours went to Shelton for his song Hillbilly Bone featuring Trace Adkins.
"That's how I like to start the night," the Oklahoma native declared, "now I can relax and get drunk!"
Little did Shelton know that later the male vocalist trophy would be his and his fiance Lambert would be the big winner.