Kenny Chesney wins country music entertainer award

Thu Nov 13, 2008 2:18am EST
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By Vernell Hackett

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Kenny Chesney captured country music's top prize -- entertainer of the year -- for the fourth time in five years on Wednesday in an awards show that also saw big wins for Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley and traditionalist George Strait.

"It's very wonderful to stand up here and hold this trophy for the fourth time. I love what I'm doing," said the black-clad Chesney, who tied Garth Brooks for most wins of the Country Music Association's top award.

The show's two co-hosts also walked away with honors. "American Idol" champ Underwood won her third consecutive female vocalist of the year award, and Paisley won male vocalist for the second year in a row.

Underwood performed a ballad honoring fallen American soldiers. Wearing a jet-black floor-length gown, she was introduced by the widow of Master Sgt. James Ponder, who was killed in a 2005 helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

"Music has the power to help us heal, and I thank God for that power," Leslie Ponder told the audience.

Chesney, 40, was chosen over fellow nominees Paisley, Strait, Sugarland and Keith Urban. Chesney previously won the prize in 2004, 2006 and 2007 in an 11-year career that has produced such hits as "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven," "There Goes My Life," and "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy."

Chesney has sold more than a million concert tickets each of the past six years and led with seven CMA nominations.

He married actress Renee Zellweger in 2005 but the marriage lasted only a few months.   Continued...

<p>Singer Kenny Chesney addresses the audience after winning "Entertainer of the Year" during the 42nd Country Music Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, November 12 , 2008. REUTERS/Tami Chappell</p>