NASHVILLE Tenn (Reuters) - Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves were the early winners at this year's Country Music Association Awards (CMA) on Wednesday, as the televised ceremony opened with jokes about celebrities' leaked nude photos, the notable absence of Taylor Swift and a ditty about the Ebola virus.
Lambert, who leads all nominees with nine nods on the success of her acclaimed album "Platinum," picked up the single of the year award for her wistful hit "Automatic."
The Texan will vie for her fifth consecutive female vocalist of the year award, as will her husband Blake Shelton as top male vocalist.
Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow" won the songwriters' award song of the year. She shared the award with fellow songwriters Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally.
Performers at the 48th CMA ceremony include hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisely as well as Shelton, Eric Church, Musgraves and pop singer Ariana Grande.
The show started with Kenny Chesney performing his hit "American Kids" followed by a duet of pop singer Meghan Trainor with Lambert, singing a country version of Trainor's No. 1 hit "All About That Bass."
Paisley and Underwood's introduction drew attention to the absence of Swift, who has shed her country roots for pop music, with a comical song about "Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder."
The duo sang "Quarantine" to the tune of Dolly Parton's classic "Jolene," poking fun at nurse Kaci Hickox who defied her Ebola quarantine order. Another gag was singing "They've Leaked Online" about the recent celebrity nude photo hacking riffing on Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line"
Dierks Bentley scored the second-most nominations with five thanks in part to his hit break-up song "Drunk on a Plane."
Country music veteran George Strait will seek to defend his entertainer of the year title, the ceremony's biggest honor, against Lambert, Shelton and singers Keith Urban and Luke Bryan.
Swift, a pop music megastar with her new album "1989," picked up a nomination for female vocalist of the year.
The CMA awards show, which competes with the springtime's Academy of Country Music Awards for prestige and TV audience is one of the top promotional events on the country music calendar.
(Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Bernard Orr)