Chicks rise, Brooks & Dunn fall, and Tim and Faith make history
The Dixie Chicks left the rest of the competition eating their dust as they flew off with four CMA awards on Oct. 4 - including the big one, Entertainer of the Year, becoming the first group to win that prestigious category since Alabama in 1984. And Faith Hill and Tim McGraw made history as the first married couple to ever take home the Female and Male Vocalist awards from country's most star-studded night of the year.
Another royal pair was dethroned, however: Country-rockin' young guns Montgomery Gentry broke Brooks & Dunn's unprecedented string of eight straight Vocal Duo of the Year wins.
A couple of old marshals, Alan Jackson and George Strait, proved they still packed heat. They pulled off a surprise victory in the Vocal Event category for "Murder On Music Row," which took aim at country's recent moves toward pop airplay.
Backstage, the winners talked about their big night.
The Chicks were surprised by the "Goodbye Earl" trophy for Video of the Year. "We felt for sure that would go to someone else," said lead singer Natalie Maines, "because it was so controversial."
Clutching her Female Vocalist trophy, crossover queen Faith Hill confirmed her allegiance to country music - but defended her right to expand into other musical areas. "I am proud of doing country," she insisted. "But I am always going to change and grow."
Meanwhile, Horizon winner Brad Paisley had a chuckle over the bait-and-switch prank he pulled with pal Chely Wright. After stirring up rumors they would be attending the show together, they did indeed arrive arm-in-arm. But then they separated and each paired off with an Opry legend - Brad with Jeannie Seely, Chely with Bill Anderson.
Montgomery Gentry were ready to cap off a victorious evening in their usual rowdy way. "We're gonna do some partying!" said Eddie Montgomery. "We might have to get somebody to come and get us out of jail!"