NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Florida Georgia Line, veteran Blake Shelton and newcomer Kacey Musgraves were the early winners on Wednesday at the Country Music Association awards, one of the industry's most coveted honors.
Florida Georgia Line's love song "Cruise" beat out competition from Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker and Musgraves for the single of the year, and the band also won for best vocal duo of the year.
Shelton's eighth studio album, "Based on a True Story...", won album of the year, giving him seven CMA awards in his career. Shelton is the reigning CMA entertainer of the year, the ceremony's top prize.
"I mentioned earlier today that if there was one award that would mean the most to me tonight it would be album of the year," said Shelton, who has raised his profile outside of country music as a judge on TV singing contest "The Voice."
Musgraves, 25, took home the award for new artist of the year on the success of her album "Same Trailer Different Park," her fourth studio album but first with a major record label.
"This first year has been just indescribable," Musgraves said while accepting the award. "I can't even begin to put into words how much I appreciate the love from not only country music but every other genre."
It was the first CMA wins for both Florida Georgia Line and Musgraves.
Florida Georgia Line, which has ridden the success of their 2012 album, "Here's to the Good Times," also helped kick off the awards show from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
The group emerged from the audience to help entertainer of the year nominee Luke Bryan open the telecast, singing "Cruise" and Bryan's hit "That's My Kind of Night."
Crossover star Taylor Swift performed an acoustic version of her song "Red" with Allison Kraus and other musicians. Eric Church also played his hit "The Outsiders" while pyrotechnics blazed in the background.
Quartet Little Big Town won the award for best vocal group.
The song of the year award, which honors songwriting, was given to Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary for "I Drive Your Truck" and performed by Lee Brice.
Hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley gave the awards ceremony a tongue-in-cheek tenor with an introduction that poked fun at feuding artists. The two singers also played comedic renditions of the 1975 pop hit "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War and pop singer Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines."
Swift and Musgraves lead CMA nominees with six nods each. Husband-and-wife singers Blake Shelton and Lambert each picked up five nominations.
Jason Aldean, George Strait, Shelton, Swift and Bryan are the nominees for entertainer of the year.
(Reporting by Vernell Hackett; Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Eric Beech)