Perennial favourite Johnny Reid and rising star Dean Brody split the haul on Monday night at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards.
Brody, a 36-year-old from Jaffray, B.C., took home three trophies at the award show held this year at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum.
Reid did him one better, earning four, including the fan-voted Fans' Choice Award, as well as best male artist and best video. On Sunday, he also was presented with the Slaight Humanitarian Award for his work on behalf of organizations such as the World Vision Foundation, Children’s Aid Foundation and the Make A Wish Foundation of Canada.
Reid opened the evening with a rousing version of Let’s Go Higher, before winning the best video honours for his feel-good song Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World.
|Fans' Choice Award: Johnny Reid|
|Best male artist: Johnny Reid|
|Best female artist: Terri Clark|
|Best album: Dean Brody, Trail in Life|
|Best single: Dean Brody, Trail in Life|
|Best group: Hey Romeo|
|Best video: Johnny Reid, Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World|
|Best songwriter: Dean Brody, Trail in Life|
|Rising Star award: Chad Brownlee|
|Slaight Humanitarian Award: Johnny Reid|
|Best roots artist: Jimmy Rankin|
"People ask me what I know for sure," he said in his acceptance speech. "What I know for sure is that one day I will leave this world and I know for sure that I’d like to leave the very best of me behind.
"This song, this video — this message is what I’d like to leave behind."
Reid was the fans' choice for the second year running and male artist of the year for a third time. He graciously acknowledged his fellow nominees in that category — Brody, George Canyon, Derek Ruttan and Gord Bamford.
"I would first like to congratulate all the other nominees. I feel fortunate to be here because there is so much talent in this room," he said.
The Scottish-born, Toronto-bred country crossover sensation came into the evening holding a leading six nominations, including album of the year, for his sixth studio album A Place Called Love, which is certified double platinum in Canada.
But that honour went to Brody for his heartfelt and autobiographical second album Trail in Life. Brody was also named songwriter of the year for the album's title track.
Brody's Trail leads up
Brody, dressed in blue jeans and a plaid short-sleeve shirt, said his trail has taken him from a place where he felt he was in the gutter to a career night at the CCMAs.
"At one point we're living in [my wife's] parents' garage, I was so embarrassed, was hiding out from my own friends in my own town," recalled an emotional Brody during his speech.
Brody performed his rocking and melodic number People Know You by Your First Name.
Canadian country veteran Terri Clark, meanwhile, topped the female artist of the year category for her fourth career CCMA. Clark was choked up during her speech too, recalling the loss of her mother to cancer last year.
"I'm going to try and do this without crying," she said. "This is the first CCMA that I’ve won that my mom hasn’t been sitting in the front row smiling at me. But my dad and my grandmother are here."
Clark, who performed a cover of Trooper's classic rock standard Here for a Good Time, called the win "bittersweet."
Surprise win for best group
Other performers who had the audience on their feet included Doc Walker, George Canyon, Emerson Drive and Jim Cuddy, singing with the Heartbroken. U.S. singer Ronnie Dunn, now a solo artist after the breakup of Brooks & Dunn, turned up to perform and present an award.
Taylor Swift made a video appearance, thanking fans for her win in international album sales. Reid, who said he’d sold 242,000 albums of A Place Called Love, won for Canadian album sales.
Chad Brownlee took home the rising star trophy — his first CCMA award. The 27-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., who was once a draft pick for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks, thanked his hockey buddies in his acceptance speech, saying they encouraged him to pick up the guitar and put down the skates.
Edmonton's Hey Romeo, which includes members Stacie Roper, Darren Gusnowsky and Rob Shapiro, pulled off an upset in the best group or duo category. Nominee Doc Walker had won the award three years straight.