ACM Awards Fete The Vets

Kenny Chesney may want to start arriving at the Academy of Country Music Awards a little later in the evening.

For a third consecutive year, he sat through a three-hour show before winning anything. But patience was a virtue at Tuesday’s 42nd annual award ceremony, just as it was at the 40th and 41st gatherings, when Chesney also went home with the prestigious entertainer of the year trophy.

Chesney, wearing his familiar black cowboy hat, paid tribute to George Strait and Keith Whitley in his acceptance speech.

“When I first started playing music, I was in college and I would go rent all my equipment and put it in the back of a pickup truck. The only thing I wanted to do was cut a record as good as Keith Whitley did, and I listened to that music over and over again,” he said.

“American Idol” champ Carrie Underwood was another winner, continuing her awards shows mastery by taking home prizes for top female vocalist, album of the year (“Some Hearts”) and video of the year (“Before He Cheats”).

“I would not be here if it were not for ‘American Idol,”’ she said as she accepted her vocal award. “Thank you, fans. God bless you.”

The venerable Brooks & Dunn survived a scare to win an unprecedented 14th vocal duo award, as well as awards for vocal event of the year for “Building Bridges” and the Home Depot humanitarian of the year honor.

The pair said afterward they were led to believe someone else would take home the top vocal duo award. “We were told to act humble,” said Kix Brooks. “It was a genuine surprise.”

Country music veteran Strait, who came to the show with a leading eight nominations, took home two awards, for single record of the year and song of the year for “Give It Away.”

Brad Paisley, who was named top male artist, called himself a Strait disciple, telling him, “I do this because of you.”

Miranda Lambert won the new female vocalist award, beating out former “American Idol” contestant Kellie Pickler and teenage country star Taylor Swift.

During the show, Swift performed her hit song “Tim McGraw,” as its namesake and his wife, country star Faith Hill, sat in the audience beaming. It was the first time Swift and McGraw had met and at the end of her song, she walked up to him and said, “Hi. I’m Taylor.”

Lambert attended the ceremonies with boyfriend and fellow country singer Blake Shelton, but he missed her victory. “He went to the bathroom just as I was winning, so I had nobody to hug,” she said.

Asked backstage about her occasionally rowdy lyrics, she replied, “A lot of women don’t sing about drinking and cheating, but we all do it, so why not sing about it?”

Rascal Flatts captured best vocal group for the fifth straight time, while Little Big Town was named top new duo or vocal group. Rodney Atkins captured top new male vocalist.

The show, broadcast live on CBS and hosted by Reba McEntire, handed out just a dozen trophies, with several others presented off-camera.

Brooks & Dunn earlier were named recipients of the humanitarian award, joining past honorees McEntire, Vince Gill, Lonestar, Martina McBride and Neal McCoy. The group will be honored with two playgrounds to be built in cities of their choice.

Other artists whose awards were announced before Tuesday’s show included: producer, Dann Huff; bass, Glenn Worf; drums, Eddie Bayers; fiddle, Aubrey Haynie; guitar, Brent Mason; keyboard, John Hobbs; specialty instrument (fiddle, mandolin), Stuart Duncan; steel guitar, Michael Johnson.