'I feel like I'm in a dream' -- Taylor Swift, CMA 2009 entertainer of the year
Taylor Swift was understandably flummoxed when I got her on the phone a few minutes after she became the youngest person ever, and the first female in nearly a decade, to be named entertainer of the year by the Country Music Assn.
"I am absolutely at a loss for words," she said, the sounds of celebration clattering in the background. "I feel like I’m in a dream. It honestly was one of those moments where my second-grade music teacher, my crew who puts that stage together and takes it down every night, all the fans in the meet-and-greet lines, all these faces came flashing through my mind.
"All I could think about was the fact that all my life, the entertainer of the year award was always such an unattainable thing, an unattainable dream. Then there I was walking up to the stage and it was happening. It took a while for it to sink in."
Because she won all four categories in which she had been nominated, I asked whether her win as female vocalist surprised her as much as it had the many who expected Carrie Underwood to repeat, or such widely lauded singers as Reba McEntire or Martina McBride to take the award.
"Absolutely," she said. "I was blown away by that. I cannot believe I have four CMA awards that I didn’t have before tonight. I was lucky to win the Horizon award two years ago, but this ... it's so overwhelming to me. Reba and Faith Hill were there, and after they announced the entertainer award we were all just hugging and crying; it was such a wonderful moment. I can’t even believe that this is happening. I’m stuttering."
I also was curious about what the reigning entertainer of the year, Kenny Chesney, told her as she went up to collect the entertainer award that had gone to him for four of the previous five years.
"He gives the most amazing amount of love out, and that's why everyone in country music loves him so much. He and I were texting earlier, and saying, 'I love you no matter what happens' to each other. It’s such a wonderful thing to be part of an industry where everyone genuinely roots for each other. Getting a hug from Kenny just before I went on stage was just so amazing."
All in all, not a bad week. In the last several days her debut album, "Taylor Swift," set the 21st century record for longevity on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart, she doubled as host and musical guest on "Saturday Night Live," won song of the year honors for "Love Story" at the BMI Country Awards on Tuesday, then swept the CMA Awards.
"The BMI Awards was an amazing experience," she said. "Kris Kristofferson was there, and that was the first time I met him. He's someone I've looked up to for a really long time. Getting song of the year for 'Love Story' .... that’s a song I wrote on the bedroom floor. That continued to amaze me how the fans have taken that song and made it what it’s turned into.
"It has been the most exciting week of my life so far," she said. "Being on 'Saturday Night Live' was like being part of this amazing tradition.... Then to come home to Nashville and have this -- I honestly don’t know what to say."
We'll excuse her until she can find the words.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo credit: Getty Images