Kellie Pickler tops CMT Music Awards

5:00 AM PST 04/15/2008 by Ken Tucker, Billboard, AP

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NASHVILLE -- She wasn't in the house, but Kellie Pickler went home the night's top winner at the 2008 CMT Music Awards, held Monday at Nashville's Curb Event Center at Belmont University.

Pickler, who had a private engagement in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was not able to attend the show, grabbed three awards, including 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. "I'm here in this hotel room by myself. I feel like I should go out and run around the hotel."

Meanwhile, Pickler's gal 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. "I don't have a fan club." "There's nothing more important to me than my fans," she said backstage.

Keith Urban opened the show, which included only one ballad all night, 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. Schmidt, Joe Walsh and Paula Abdul were among the out-of-genre artists that 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.

He may not have come out on top on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice," but Trace Adkins won top male honors for "I Got My Game On." "I'd like to thank country radio for giving me my first three-week No. 1. I'm having a good year," Adkins said in accepting.

Comedian Rodney Carrington took home a supporting character "buckle," as the awards are known, for his appearance in Adkins' video. "Isn't like that one step above the guy who ate the most mashed potatoes?" Carrington wondered backstage.

Michael Salamon, who produced Toby Keith's "High Maintenance Woman" and Adkins' "I Got My Game On," took home director honors.

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant won Wide Open Country Video for "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Move On)." "I'd like to thank [the song's writers] Phil and Don Everly for getting me through my teenage years and I'd like to thank Alison for getting me through my late 50s," Plant said after accepting the award.

Bon Jovi and LeAnn Rimes won collaborative video for "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore." "I wish Jon were here tonight. I had a lot of fun rolling around with him in bed," Rimes said in accepting the award. "I had no clothes on all night and I was freezing," she added backstage.

Sugarland took top duo honors for "Stay" and Brad Paisley won the comedy video award for "Online." Sugarland collaborated with Little Big Town and Jason Owen on a cover of Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town" during the show and Hank Williams Jr. joined Paisley on stage for "I'm Still a Guy."
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