Checotah native Carrie Underwood won the top prize at tonight’s CMT Music Awards just moments after belting an emotional tribute to her tornado-ravaged home state.
Tishomingo power couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton also emerged as winners as the fan-voted awards show aired live tonight from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Underwood earned the belt buckle trophy for video of the year for “Blown Away,” the “Wizard of Oz”-theme mini-movie to her latest album’s title track.
“Oh my gosh. Whew, the good Lord has been very good to me – well, all of us in this room, for a long time. First and foremost, I’d like to just thank Him for our love of music,” she said, adding words of thanks for her fans, the video’s director, Randee St. Nicholas, and her husband, Mike Fisher, who was celebrating his birthday.
Moments before she accepted the award, Underwood, 30, belted her uplifting new single “See You Again” as an impassioned tribute to her home state and the victims of the deadly and destructive tornadoes that ripped through several Oklahoma communities last month. Backed by a choir made up of two dozen members of Nashville’s Christ Church, the superstar seemed to fight back tears as images of the devastation played out on the giant screens behind her.
After the performance, a message encouraging viewers to donate to the American Red Cross flashed on the screen. In the wake of last month’s tornadoes, Underwood made a $1 million donation derived from her “Blown Away Tour” proceeds to the organization’s disaster relief efforts.
Shelton earned the male video of the year prize for his hit “Sure Be Cool if You Did,” but the celebrity coach on the reality TV show “The Voice,” which films in Los Angeles, wasn’t there to receive it. His wife, Lambert, who was presenting the award, promised to deliver it to him:
“I’m going to take this home on his behalf. Honey, I’m drinking for two tonight! I love you!” Lambert said.
She also had two awards of her own to celebrate. The Texas native received the CMT Performance of the Year for her emotional ballad “Over You” from the 2012 CMT Artists of the Year TV special.
“This is awesome,” Lambert said. “It’s such a special song to me, and I want to say thanks to my husband, who’s a co-writer on that song.”
She also received female video of the year for her feisty hit “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and she relished receiving the trophy from rocker Lenny Kravitz.
“Um, I just got a kiss from Lenny Kravitz. That was an award in itself. I had so much fun making this video with (director) Trey Fanjoy. The only unfortunate part about the video was all the drinking was actually iced tea. That was bad, but anyway, thank you so much!” she said with a grin.
Lambert was one of only two artists to earn two belt buckles at tonight’s CMT Music Awards: Hot newcomers Florida Georgia Line earned the breakthrough video and duo video of the year prizes for their summery smash “Cruise,” and they closed the star-studded awards show performing it with rapper Nelly.
The Nationwide Insurance On Your Side Award, another prize designated for newcomers, went to Hunter Hayes. Lady Antebellum garnered the group video award for “Downtown,” and Jason Aldean, who co-hosted the show for the first time with actress Kristen Bell, shared the collaborative video prize with Luke Bryan and Eric Church for “The Only Way I Know,” which they performed at the 2012 Country Music Association Awards.
To read my live blog of the CMT Music Awards, click here.