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Image: Taylor Swift
Tami Chappell  /  Reuters
Singer Taylor Swift jumped with excitment when she won the award for entertainer of the year, which was presented to her by Reba McEntire, right.
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updated 11/10/2011 12:13:54 AM ET 2011-11-10T05:13:54

A giddy Taylor Swift won her second entertainer of the year award and rising sibling act The Band Perry was the night's top winner as The Country Music Association Awards celebrated the young women of country music on Wednesday night.

Swift was rewarded for an amazing year during which she brought country music to the Far East, scored hits all around the world and continued a run that's made her country's hottest young star for several years. She's just the second woman to win the award twice, joining Barbara Mandrell.

"This is thanks to all the fans who filled the stadiums and arenas all over the world this year," said Swift, who leaped from her seat with her hands in the air and jumped for joy. "I am so happy we had so many to play for this year. You have made my year."

Slideshow: Taylor Swift (on this page)
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It was a melancholy song about dying young that ran hard against the tried-and-true country radio formula that had everyone's attention most of the night, though. "If I Die Young," written by Kimberly Perry, won song and single of the year and the band picked up new artist of the year as well.

Technically the band, which includes Perry's brothers Neil and Reid, won two awards since song of the year goes to the writer, who was Kimberly Perry alone. But the message was the same nonetheless.

"If I Die Young" is one of the few country songs that managed to crossover into the pop world.

"We sort of feel like we are part of the country evangelism scene and we love to hear country songs on pop radio," Kimberly Perry said. "It proved to be a song with really long legs."

Crossover appeal proved to be the theme of the night. Jason Aldean, who won his first major CMA award when his platinum-selling "My Kinda Party" won album of the year, also won musical event of the year for his duet "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Kelly Clarkson. And Kenny Chesney won music video of the year for his duet "You and Tequila" with Grace Potter.

That theme also carried over to the stage where stars from different genres came together for some of the CMA's strongest performances. The show also featured plenty of sexy dancing, belching smoke special effects and, at one point, acrobats spinning down from the ceiling on lengths of unspooling fabric.

Story: Winners of the 45th Annual CMA Awards

Lionel Richie had every star buzzing on the red carpet before performing duets from his new country album with Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker and Little Big Town. He posed for a picture with Miranda Lambert and gave advice to Lady Antebellum on the red carpet.

Gregg Allman joined fellow Peach State natives Zac Brown Band on "Georgia on my Mind," Natasha Bedingfield, in a dress that featured a fluffy red skirt, joined Rascal Flatts on stage to perform their duet "Easy," and that was just the start of genre shuffling.

Blake Shelton and Kenny Loggins opened the show with a high-energy version of Loggins' hit "Footloose." Later, Glen Campbell, one of country's biggest crossover pioneers who is now battling Alzheimer's disease, was given a musical tribute when Vince Gill, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley sang three of his songs.

Richie, who will soon issue a country duets album, hadn't performed on the CMAs since 1986 when he appeared with Alabama. He noted the show has changed dramatically over the decades, as has country music.

"It's Cirque de Soleil ... it's full-on production," Richie said. "This is off-the-chain, this is the Oscars of the music business, the CMAs."

Lady Antebellum won vocal group of the year for the third straight time and Sugarland took its fifth straight vocal duo of the year award. And Shelton and his wife Lambert repeated as male and female vocalists of the year.

"Congrats to my hubby, too," Lambert shouted from the stage to Shelton. "It's going to be a good night tonight, baby!" The camera cut to Shelton, who rubbed his hands together and smiled devilishly.

It wasn't the night's only funny moment.

Hank Williams Jr. appeared during the opening skit with hosts Paisley and Carrie Underwood, who lampooned his recent troubles with ESPN and his "Monday Night Football" theme song. Paisley brought out an acoustic guitar and began his own version of "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight."

Slideshow: 2011 Country Music Association Awards (on this page)

"Are you ready for an awards show?" Paisley sang before Underwood warned him he might draw Williams' ire. Williams got into trouble for using an analogy to Adolf Hitler in discussing President Barack Obama.

As they spoke, Williams quietly walked up behind the hosts to the roar from the crowd. Asked if he wanted to say something, Williams said, "No," to the delight of the audience.

It was just one of several laugh-out-loud moments for the hosts, who trotted out Barbies of McGraw and Hill after Williams left the stage.

"I can't wait until after the show," Paisley said to Underwood. "Can we play with them now?"

The two made the dolls kiss and before checking to see if the McGraw doll was anatomically correct. "There's nothing there," Paisley said in amazement.

The camera cut to McGraw and Hill, who raised her arms and mouthed the words, "I know," receiving the night's biggest laugh.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: 2011 CMA Awards

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  1. Sandra Lee

    TV cook and author Sandra Lee on the red carpet at the 45th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 9 in Nashville. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Lynn Anderson

    Grammy-winning country artist Lynn Anderson was escorted by U.S. Marines at the CMAs. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Little Big Town and Lionel Richie

    Members of country music band Little Big Town and singer Lionel Richie, center, pose together as they arrived for the CMAs. The group and artist performed at the show. (Harrison Mcclary / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Carrie Underwood

    Carrie Underwood, who co-hosted and performed during the show, struck a pose on the red carpet. She was also nominated for female vocalist of the year. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

    Married country stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill posed on the red carpet at the CMAs. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

    Country star Keith Urban is all smiles as he arrives for the ceremony with wife, actress Nicole Kidman. (Harrison Mcclary / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Blake Shelton and Kenny Loggins

    Musicians Blake Shelton, left, and Kenny Loggins kicked off the show with their performance of "Footloose." (Tami Chappell / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and Hank Williams Jr.

    CMA Awards hosts Brad Paisley, left, and Carrie Underwood poked fun at Hank Williams Jr.'s recent controversy involving ESPN during the show's opening skit. The musician, center, was included in the bit. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Keith Urban

    Country star Keith Urban performed "You Gonna Fly"during the show. (Rick Diamond / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Kellie Pickler and Kellan Lutz

    Season five "American Idol" contestant Kellie Pickler and "Twilight Saga" star Kellan Lutz presented the song of the year award, which went to The Band Perry for "If I Die Young." (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Luke Bryan

    Luke Bryan performed his hit "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)" during the 45th Annual CMA Awards. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Natasha Bedingfield and Gary LeVox

    Natasha Bedingfield, left, and Rascal Flatts member Gary LeVox performed "Easy." (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas

    "Once Upon a Time" co-stars Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas presented the award for vocal duo of the year, which went to Sugarland. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Sugarland

    Jennifer Nettles, left, and Kristian Bush from the band Sugarland accept the award for vocal duo of the year. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Sara Evans

    Sara Evans performed at the ceremony. She was nominated for female vocalist and single of the year. (Rick Diamond / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Taylor Swift

    Young country star Taylor Swift performed her tune "Ours." She was nominated for five awards, including entertainer, female vocalist and album of the year. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Grace Potter and Kenny Chesney

    Grace Potter and Kenny Chesney performed "You and Tequilla" during the 45th Annual CMA Awards. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Lady Antebellum

    Charles Kelley, left, Hillary Scott, center, and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum performed during the 45th Annual CMA Awards. The trio won for vocal group of the year. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Carrie Underwood and Miss Piggy

    Co-host Carrie Underwood and Miss Piggy had a chat at the 45th annual CMA Awards. (Rick Diamond / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Scotty McCreery

    "American Idol" season 10 champ Scotty McCreery performed "Walk in the Country." (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Reese Witherspoon

    Actress Reese Witherspoon presented the award for male vocalist, which went to crooner Blake Shelton. (Rick Diamond / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Taylor Swift and Reba McEntire

    Taylor Swift, left, screamed when she won the award for entertainer of the year, which was presented by Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Reba McEntire, right. (Tami Chappell / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: 45th Annual CMA Awards  - Arrivals
    Michael Loccisano / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (22) 2011 Country Music Association Awards
  2. Image: Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift
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    Slideshow (35) Taylor Swift

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