USA TODAY - This cowboy still has some time before riding off into the sunset.
Country legend George Strait, who's currently on a two-year farewell tour, garnered the top prize at Wednesday night's Country Music Association Awards, winning entertainer of the year over such artists as Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton.
"What?! Oh, my gosh, never in a million years. My dad's been having some pretty good conversations up there," said Strait, whose father died in June at age 91.
The award shelves of country music's power couple also got a little heavier.
Married stars Miranda Lambert and Shelton won female vocalist and male vocalist of the year respectively for the fourth year in a row.
"Well, hell. I really didn't think this was going to happen this year," said Lambert, thanking her husband Shelton, who also won his first CMA album of the year award, "for putting up with all my crap."
Shelton's Based On a True Story ... was honored for best album, and he said that if there was ever one award "I always dreamed of having, it was that one."
Little Big Town won its second consecutive vocal group of the year trophy, while the rookies of Florida Georgia Line took home a pair of honors.
"We just got an award from Puffy and Pickle!" Kimberly Schlapman exclaimed when Little Big Town received its trophy from Sean Combs and Kellie Pickler.
Acclaimed 25-year-old singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves, who led all nominees with six total, was named best new artist.
"This first year for me has just been indescribable," she said, thanking her grandmother in the audience. "That woman was my booking agent when I was 10 years old. She didn't make me sign a contract or anything."
Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line also made mention of his grandmother when accepting the award for single of the year for crossover hit Cruise."Grandma, I know you're smiling up in heaven. This is for you, girl."
After receiving the trophy for duo, Kelley's partner Tyler Hubbard thanked fellow artists Swift, Luke Bryan and Jake Owen for their early vocal support as well as their fans for "making our dreams come true."
Lee Brice's moving I Drive Your Truck won for best song. Co-writer Jimmy Yeary dedicated the award to the man it was based on, a soldier who died in Afghanistan. "His dad today still drives his truck, and we wrote his song about him," he said.
Yeary's fellow co-writer Jessi Alexander is married to Jon Randall Stewart, who won the 2005 song of the year for co-writing the Brad Paisley/Alison Krauss hit Whiskey Lullaby. "I've had to pass his beautiful award for seven years," Alexander says.
During Wednesday morning's Good Morning America, Swift, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban won musical event and music video of the year for Highway Don't Care. And before the prime-time broadcast, Mac McAnally was named musician of the year. It's his sixth consecutive win, tying him with Mark O'Connor, but he still trails nine-time honoree Chet Atkins.
Kenny Rogers was bestowed the Willie Nelson lifetime achievement award. Darius Rucker sang Rogers' classic The Gambler, while the legendary star sang his duetIslands in the Stream with Jennifer Nettles.
"It's been a hell of a week," said Rogers, who was also named recently to the Country Music Hall of Fame. "I can't wait to see what next week brings."
A host of country's top talent took the stage to honor Swift with the CMA's Pinnacle Award, for her worldwide success and recognition.
"They told me this was going to happen, but I didn't know it was going to be all this," she said. "My parents aren't just crying, they're bawling at this point."
In turn, she honored some of the country artists who helped her early in her career, such as George Strait, "who taught me toplay the songs your fans want to hear"; Brad Paisley, a guy she'll never be as funny as "and it makes me sad"; and McGraw and Faith Hill, "who have a style that is a pinnacle I will never reach."
Contributing: Brian Mansfield