Pickler, Swift big winners at CMT Music Awards
By Ken Tucker
NASHVILLE (Billboard) - She wasn't in the house, but former "American Idol" finalist Kellie Pickler was the top winner at the CMT Music Awards, held Monday in Nashville.
Pickler, who was committed to perform at a private show in Arizona, enjoyed a clean sweep in all three of her categories -- breakthrough video, performance (for her handling of "I Wonder" on the 41st annual CMA Awards) and tearjerker video for the same song.
"This is the first thing I've ever won," she told reporters via a conference call backstage at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University. "I'm here in this hotel room by myself. I feel like I should go out and run around the hotel."
The CMT Music Awards aired on MTV Networks' country music cable channel CMT.
Meanwhile, Pickler's pal Taylor Swift took the night's top honor, video of the year for "Our Song," and was also named top female. "I want to thank MySpace and my fans for all the sites they have made for me," Swift said in accepting.
Keith Urban opened the show with "Raise the Barn" featuring special guests Brooks & Dunn. The show was hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus and daughter Miley Cyrus, who also performed their recent hit, "Ready, Set, Don't Go."
Snoop Dogg, Bobby Brown, Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh and Paula Abdul were among the out-of-genre artists who appeared on the show.
"There are so many 'American Idol' alumni here, I feel like this is a reunion and I'm their mom," Abdul said from the stage. Continued...