- Associated Press - Sunday, April 3, 2011

LAS VEGAS (AP) - “The House That Built Me” helped Miranda Lambert quickly match her win total from last year’s Academy of Country Music awards on Sunday night, while Lady Antebellum took home three trophies, including as artist and producer on album of the year “Need You Now.”

The two acts, who are the best of friends, celebrated on stage after Lambert, winner of last year’s album of the year award for “Revolution,” announced the winner.

“Thank you, Miranda Lambert, for winning this last year and not being in the category this year,” Lady A’s Charles Kelley said.

They were named vocal group of the year a few moments later.

“The House That Built Me,” written by Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas, won song, single record and video of the year Sunday night. It mirrors a difficult time in Lambert’s life, but those times are over and the song has helped Lambert’s star rise to new heights. It helped her win the Grammy for best female country performance and it also won Country Music Association’s song of the year award as well.

“Allen and Tom,” Lambert said after winning single record, “thank you for writing the song of the year.”

Brad Paisley claimed his fifth straight top male vocalist of the year award.

“This is way too many for me,” Paisley said before joking, “I don’t know who got paid what. No, I’m kidding, kidding. It’s all very fair.”

Sugarland won vocal duo of the year for the second time.

The Band Perry claimed the best new artist award moments after singing their hit “If I Die Young.” It was the trio of two brothers and one sister’s second win after taking home top new vocal duo or group before the awards. They were competing with Eric Church for top new artist.

“We believe that country music is the peeple’s music,” Kimberly Perry said. “And it is our greatest desire to be their band.”

Zac Brown Band, up for five awards, took home vocal event of the year with Alan Jackson for their collaboration on “As She’s Walking Away.”

Paisley kicked off the ACMs with a little help from friends: Three members of the iconic group Alabama joined Paisley on his new song “Old Alabama,” bringing the crowd at the MGM Grand to its feet Sunday night. It was one of several big collaborations during the show. Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood rocked out to “Undo It” then segued to the Aerosmith classic “Walk This Way,” and later, Rihanna, sporting a flaming orange pixie haircut, performed her song “California King Bed” with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles.

The show opened with co-host Blake Shelton singing a slow song to what appeared to Lambert, his fiance. But as the camera panned in on a blonde draped over a couch, it revealed the show’s other co-host, Reba McEntire in a blonde wig.

“All right, Blake,” she said, “that’s enough rehearsing for your wedding night. We’ve got a show to do. Focus!”

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