NASHVILLE -- It was couples night at the Country Music Association Awards as Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert capped an emotional evening with Shelton's first Entertainer of the Year award.
The Voice star won a leading three awards, including his third straight Male Vocalist of the Year award. Lambert won Female Vocalist of the Year, and the couple shared Song of the Year for their collaboration Over You.
Lambert wept onstage in one of the more emotional CMA moments in recent memory as her husband recounted for the ABC television audience how his late father, Dick, spurred the couple to write the song, about the loss of his brother Richie.
"My dad always told me, 'Son, you should write a song about your brother,'" Shelton said. "I lost my dad in January, and it's so amazing to me that tonight, even after he's gone, he's still right. I just needed the right person to write this song with and the right person to sing it."
Shelton and Lambert weren't the only couple with surprising wins. Little Big Town, a quartet that includes couple Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook, took home Vocal Group and Single of the Year for Pontoon. Like fellow outsiders LBT, Eric Church felt the love from the CMA's voters for the first time. He won the prestigious Album of the Year for his breakthrough record Chief.
The North Carolina native was this year's leading nominee, breaking through in prestigious categories for the first time. Yet no one was more surprised than Church.
"I mean our path's been a little bit different," Church said. "I distinctly remember playing for eight people in Amarillo, Texas, four years ago, and to go from there to here is quite surreal."