November 12th, 2009
11:51 AM ET

A Swift rise at the CMAs

Taylor Swift says she was surprised to win Entertainer of the Year at Wednesday night's 53rd Annual CMA Awards - but apparently, she was the only one who had any doubt.

On the red carpet heading into Nashville's Sommet Center, just about everyone we polled, from Reba McEntire to Kris Kristofferson, predicted the 19-year-old country phenom would walk away with the top prize - the youngest to do so, and the first female solo artist to be named Entertainer of the Year in a decade.

Her win broke Kenny Chesney's four-year lock on the category, and right before Swift took the stage to accept the award, Chesney whispered something into her ear. Backstage after the show, Swift told us the two were just saying how much they loved each other.

Journalists in the main press room prodded her about Kanye West, as well as her rumored beau, Taylor Lautner. She deflected the Kanye question by saying good-naturedly, "I'm so excited to be here. Aren't you excited to be here?" In response to the query about her love life, she simply said, "Huh? What?" and pretended she didn't understand the question.

Swift has been impressive since she took the world by storm with her self-titled debut album three years ago, and even those she beat out for the crown had admiring words. Brad Paisley - who has yet to win the accolade despite being nominated five times - reminisced about how he'd taken her on the road as his opening act, and joked that he'd no longer be accepting opening acts.

Interesting fly-on-the-wall moment ... witnessing a conversation between veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer and Paisley, where they made plans for Schieffer to "come out to the farm."

The CMA Awards are billed as "country music's biggest night" - and this year, it also officially signified a changing of the guard. Lady Antebellum scored an upset victory over Rascal Flatts, who've been unstoppable for six straight years as Group of the Year. Backstage, the young trio (Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood) talked about how they're taking home trophies before they deserve them (the group's sophomore album won't be released until January). There were plans to meet up at Charles' house for an after-party after the after-party, then have breakfast at Hillary's mom and dad's home.

Charles also mentioned something about making a run to Krystal for a burger (for you West Coasters, the Nashville equivalent of driving through In-N-Out in your limo after winning a Grammy).

At 43, Best New Artist Darius Rucker chuckled that he was the "oldest winner in that category of all time." He said he'd received congratulatory text messages from his Hootie and the Blowfish bandmates, but that his three young kids back in Charleston, South Carolina, were blissfully unaware he'd won. Rucker said he'd call them in the morning and break the news.

"They had to go to bed ... that was the deal," he said. "This may change how the world perceives me, but at home, I'm just Dad."

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Joel

    Little Jimmy Dickens ROCKED!!!

    November 16, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lon

    Uh, guys....She won because she sold more records than all the rest of the folks in the place combined!! And that means, and I could be wrong here, that a WHOLE MAJOR LOT of people love her and her music enough to fork over some real decent coin for it. So I guess that puts you-all in the minority ay? Oh, and Jennifer? You have my blessing to do WHATEVER you want WHENEVER you want to do it! Thank you very much.

    November 16, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. georgiapeach

    Taylor Swift CMA Entertainer of the Year???? Give us a break! This was by far the worst CMA ever, Swift's show opening performance was way over the top, and the second performance was even worse. I do think she is a good role model for young girls and that she is a talented song writer, but she is not a singer, she can barely carry a tune and her songs are teeny bopper pop – at best! I watched the show up until she won female vocalist and was so disgusted I turned it off. Swift doesn't have a quarter of the singing talent as the other nominees and when I saw the next day that she won Entertainer of the Year, I knew the whole 'awards" show was a total farce. Oh and I have to comment on Jennifer Nettles seeming to think that she was going to give Brooks & Dunn "their moment" to speak, how stupid and arrogant!

    November 13, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Debra R

    Taylor is a talented songwriter. She has a decent voice, but she needs to train her voice...

    November 13, 2009 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joseph Walden

    Well basically Taylor's a 1 album wonder treated like a solid vocalist when facts are I've never heard of her before the Kanye dis.
    That being said I know who Kanye West due multiple hit recordings,
    even if I don't buy or care about his music.
    I have to recognize he is actually a star and Taylor is someone given fame by a talent contest or something, because I've no ideal who or what she's supposed to be.
    And her popularity is even less than that of child star/pop singer Miley Cyrus whom I also don't listen too but at least I know who she is..

    November 13, 2009 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rainey

    Cute girl, but no singing talent at all. Just shows what good looks and a major PR "machine" can do for you....just not right. Why would someone push their child in this direction when it's so obvious she's so not a singer? Hope she's investing well after her 15 minutes are up. She needs to stick with writing and get off the stage.

    November 13, 2009 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. matt

    Taylor Swift better hope grammy voters did not see those dreadful performances. Let's say i think she killed her grammy hopes.

    November 12, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mika

    How is this possible? Our obession with youth and beauty is on full display. I agree that this young woman has some talent, but certainly she doesn't deserve such accolades and awards.

    November 12, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. foxxylilfoxx

    I hate that Kanye stepped on Taylors toes but the girl can't sing to me. She has a different type of voice only her mother could love! Her fame has to be looks alone and the fact that Kanye treated her horrible on national tv.

    November 12, 2009 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. George

    I was waiting for Carrie Underwood to run up on stage and pull a "Kayne"!

    November 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. wayne

    To GiveMeABreak; we are in no way discussing Taylor Hicks, as he wasn't on the CMA's last night, and doesn't even sing country music. Taylor Hicks was on American Idol. Perhaps a little 'reading" would have been in order before you jumped into the discussion. Always know the subject matter BEFORE subjecting your opinion on everyone else. Just a little suggestion.

    November 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wayne

    As cold as the audience seemed to be towards LeAnn Rhimes last night, I'm sure the handlers of Taylor Swift have used LeAnn as a very good example of how quickly you can go from the penthouse to the basement of public opinion and acceptance in an instant. I, like you Nubbie, hope she's listening intently.

    November 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nubbie

    I will give Taylor credit for being a "good role model" for our teenagers. Lets just hope she doesn't pull a LeAnn Rhimes on us.

    November 12, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nubbie

    I agree with Terri 100%. Taylor is so totally over rated. She is talented in her own right for her own age group. I believe her winning this award is due to so many "Tweens" having bought her CD's. As far as competition against such talented artist goes, she just doesn't compare. You've got to live a little to earn the right to be nominated for such a Grand Award.... or maybe not so grand anymore. Taylor's winning this award is like saying a 16 year old who just got their drivers license is a better driver that their parents. It all boils down to the experience....

    November 12, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Barbara

    You are right that she is marketable to teenagers....finally someone who has class and acts repectable in addition to talent.....a very positive role model....(there's not many)

    November 12, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Terri

    Taylor is totally over rated! She can write her own songs and that is about it. She in no way deserved to win Best Female or Entertainer of the year. She can't hold a candle vocally to the other females that were nominated for best female vocalist. She is a product of the studio and she is marketable to all the teenagers. As far as the Entertainer of the year award goes, it should have gone to any of the other nominees except her. She has not had her own headlining tour, she is always the opening act! So it isn't her that is selling out arenas, rather than Brad Paisley or Keith Urban who she is opening for. I don't dispute that she has some talent, but not to the degree of the other people she was nominated with. She needs to live a little and experience life so that she can stop writing about life at 15. Adults don't want to hear about that because we have been there and done that. It is the kids that she is selling too and that is where her marketing is the strongest.

    November 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  17. ED FL

    This CMA was head and shoulders above all the rest as thje worst CMA ever. What was country about it Nothing at all. The contestants and performers looked like a bunch of vagabonds , shaggy looking , dirty looking and just yelling words. It did not take fifteen minutes to find something better to watch. Teen age girls hollering words and trying to look sexy does not fit the image of country music that has captured this US like the old timers with words and music accompaning that you could listen to and understand. Hollering luod enough to hear in the next county is not singing. Hopefully we will not have another show like this disaster in the future.

    November 12, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  18. wayne

    I really like Taylor Swift, but lets be honest, some of the awards that she won were nothing more the Academy of Country Music making the most of the hot topic at hand; Kanye & Taylor Swift. And the heavyweights she beat out have been in the business long enough to recognize what it means to ride the wave of a good scandal. I think Taylor is a good, counter-balance for young people who are being told by the likes of Britney Spears that 3-ways are the way to go right now. So, instead of thinking too much into this and trying too hard to dig out the negatives, I will be one who will say congrats to Taylor on an amazing year!!! Your positive influence on our kids helps some of us rest a little easier at night.

    November 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  19. maggie

    To GiveMeABreakYouHicks: Where did you come up with Taylor HICKS?? We are talking about SWIFT!!

    November 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Cindy J.

    I am so sick of Taylor Swift!! None of her live performances are ever good, and the subject matter of her songs is so JUVENILE!!! She should be on Radio Disney with her high school melodies. She is 19 now, time to be a big girl, take a voice lesson orget off the radio. It seems if you're cute and have long blond hair that makes you a star whether you can sing or not. Come on CMA's get real!

    November 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  21. maggie

    let's just call the CMAs The Taylor Swift Show!!! She showed in the opening that she can't sing; and that bit with all of the teenyboppers surrounding her during her second song (why 2 perfomances??!!) Give me a break. I certainly hope that her 3rd CD will be something other than her teenage diary!! Carrie and Brad did a great job!! Carrie got robbed for Female award; I know she didn't have anything new during the voting period, but a far better singer than Little Miss I'm All That.

    November 12, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  22. GiveMeABreakYouHicks

    You folks who are all ragging on Taylor Hicks are a bunch of country lovin rednecks who don't appreciate new comers to the arena.

    November 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Rhiannon

    Taylor is a talented entertainer. She writes her own songs, produces her records, plays guitar, piano, acts and is lovely to look at. I enjoy watching her perform, although the whole hair flip thing was a bit overdone last night.

    But she really can't sing very well at all. Her recordings have obviously been "tweeked" in the studio, so she sounds great on the radio, but her live performances are not up to par.

    I'm not surprised they gave her Entertainer of the Year. I was shocked that they gave her Female Vocalist though. Carrie Underwood and Martina both have powerhouse voices and either one would have been a better choice.

    November 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Debra R

    I can't understand why Lady A beat out Little Big Town. Lady A is is more prepacked than the Monkees and bazooka bubble gum. they don't even act like a group....

    Taylor is OK but come on....she beat out George Strait????? Keith Urban?????

    LOVED all the songs and skits ragging Kanye

    November 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Steve Preston

    I just don't get the love affair with Taylor. She has a tough time carrying a tune and holding a note. Flat can't sing. I don't understand it all. CMA's were a joke.

    November 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Debra R

    Kanye...see what you did...

    November 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  27. LaQuetta

    Taylor is doing her thing, and undoubtedly people are loving it. Keep it up Swift. and other people quit hating.

    November 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Jacque

    After that stupid incident with Kanyae West, they had to make amends!

    November 12, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  29. brenda bass

    They really have Murdered country music. She does "Bubble Gum" not country.

    November 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  30. LBW

    She is a little girl singing about puppy love. Is that the new country music?

    November 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |

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