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Correction: CMA Awards story

Saturday - 11/9/2013, 1:20am  ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- In a story Nov. 6 and 7 about The Country Music Association Awards, The Associated Press reported erroneously the name of the song George Strait and Alan Jackson sang in tribute to George Jones. The song's title is "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

A corrected version of the story is below:

CMA Awards, fellow stars salute George Strait

CMA Awards, fellow stars salute George Strait with CMA entertainer of the year win

By CHRIS TALBOTT

AP Music Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The entertainer of the year trophy at the Country Music Association Awards is one of the most coveted honors in the genre, but sometimes it's OK to lose -- like, say, when George Strait is a nominee.

Strait won his third entertainer of the year award and his first since 1990 Wednesday night against country music's current hitmakers, and there wasn't a disappointed person in the house. Heck, Blake Shelton -- one of five performers with a leading two victories -- was excited to lose to the 61-year-old whose popularity defies his age.

"That's how it needs to be because he's not just entertainer of the year, he's entertainer of the last three decades, I guess, or four decades," Shelton said. "I don't know who's keeping score. I mean, it's George Strait. He's King George. I couldn't be happier with how this turned out."

Shelton was one of five top winners with two trophies apiece, along with Florida Georgia Line and the trio of Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, who won music video and music event of the year for their "Highway Don't Care" collaboration. Like Strait, Swift also was going for her third entertainer of the year, which would have been a CMA record for a woman. Like Shelton, she couldn't have cared less when she lost, instead hugging Faith Hill as they cried tears of joy for Strait. She noted they've both opened for Strait in their careers and she recounted a story about how Strait and his wife Norma dropped in to one of her first headlining concerts when she was a teenager just to wish her luck.

"And that's the kind of artist he is," Strait said. "And when you're that kind of person, and you win something, everybody's cheering for you and people are crying. And that's the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.

The crowd gave Strait a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage, and stayed standing throughout his speech -- which by the usually reclusive Strait's standards, was long. It wasn't just a special night for those in the arena. It was also the show's top trending moment on Facebook.

His retirement from the road has gained lots of attention, but Strait isn't a relic. He remains relevant, recently earning his record 60th No. 1 and signing a five-album deal with Universal Music Nashville that will keep in making records.

Backstage he shared with reporters how it has felt as he circles the country on his The Cowboy Rides Away tour, his last.

"When I first started out this year, the first few shows, I about lost it every night, you know, leaving the stage ... thinking, This might be the last time I ever play on this stage again,'" Strait said. He joked he had so much fun, "The cowboy might be riding in again."

Strait's victory capped a show that was simultaneously focused on the past, present and future.

Shelton, his wife Miranda Lambert and Swift all continued winning ways. Shelton took album of the year for "Based on a True Story ...," and won his fourth male vocalist of the year. Voters supplied some symmetry when they named Lambert female vocalist of the year, also for the fourth time, tying her with good friend Reba McEntire.

It was the third straight year in which Lambert or Shelton were among the top winners, and capped a year in which they were dogged by tabloid stories about their relationship. Lambert said she wasn't sure why the CMA's 6,000 voters love the couple so much.

"You know, pillow talk, literally, we're like, 'Well, our year was last year,'" Lambert said. "It was great, a great run while we had it. We'll drink tonight and celebrate all of our friends winning, because literally all of my friends won awards tonight. And that's what's great about country music because we are all friends. But I just thank everybody for really understanding that we're real people and that every time they vote for us and that we stand up there on that stage it's like it makes our life."

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