Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Church, Shelton Big Winners at Cma Awards

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Church, Shelton Big Winners at Cma Awards

Article excerpt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After years of feeling like an outsider, Eric Church found a home Thursday night at the Country Music Association Awards.

Mr. Church won prestigious honor album of the year for his breakthrough record "Chief," signaling his complete acceptance by the country music community.

"I spent a lot of my career wondering where I fit in -- too country, too rock," Mr. Church told the crowd. "I want to thank you guys for giving me somewhere to hang my hat tonight."

The North Carolina native was this year's leading nominee, breaking through in prestigious categories for the first time. Yet no one was more surprised than Mr. Church, who said he certainly had no expectation of winning.

"Never, especially with our journey," he said. "I mean our path's been a little bit different. I distinctly remember playing for eight people in Amarillo, Texas, four years ago, and to go from there to here is quite surreal."

It wasn't the surprise-filled night's only surreal moment. In one of the awards' most emotional moments in recent memory, husband and wife stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, who won male vocalist and female vocalist of the year, also won song of the year for "Over You.

As Ms. Lambert openly wept on stage, Mr. Shelton recounted for the ABC television audience how the loss of his older brother, Richie, and father, Dick, spurred the couple to write the heart- rending song.

"My dad always told me, 'Son, you should write a song about your brother,' " Mr. Shelton said. "I lost my dad in January, and it's so amazing to me that tonight, even after he's gone, he's still right. I just needed the right person to write this song with and the right person to sing it."

And Mr. Shelton came up with a trifecta, being named entertainer of the year, also.

The awards went off-script early as Little Big Town and Thompson Square earned unexpected wins. …

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