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Chesney claims top country award

LAS VEGAS -- Newlywed Kenny Chesney took home entertainer of the year honors last night at the 40th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.

Chesney's win over leading nominee Tim McGraw came just eight days after his surprise marriage to actress Renee Zellweger, but he focused his speech on the fans, not his new wife.

''I go on stage every night at 9:15, but our show starts at 2:30 in the afternoon because all the fans are out there in the parking lot, partying and got our music cranked up. And I want to thank ya'll," said Chesney, wearing a black cowboy hat and blue dress shirt.

McGraw took top single and song honors for his hit ''Live Like You Were Dying." Most of McGraw's six nominations came from the song about living life to its fullest.

Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss also grabbed two trophies for their haunting duet ''Whiskey Lullaby," which won for best video and vocal event. Paisley said he had initially been concerned that radio wouldn't play the song because of its dark themes.

Keith Urban accepted the top male vocalist and album honor for his ''Be Here" from Belfast, Northern Ireland. ''I'm blown away," Urban said. ''It's like 20 to 2 in the morning, but this is the best wake-up call I've ever had."

Spunky newcomer Gretchen Wilson, who had the breakout hit of the year with ''Redneck Woman," took home honors for top new artist and female vocalist.

Veterans Brooks & Dunn beat out several newcomers for top vocal duo, their 19th career award.

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