Shania Twain won best entertainer while the Dixie Chicks picked up three awards tonight at the Country Music Association Awards, and the presence of George Jones was strongly felt despite his absence.
"I'm embarrassed that I'm crying, but it's just such an honor," said Twain, who said her celebration would include trying to meet Dolly Parton, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the ceremonies in the Grand Old Opry House.
Show host Vince Gill cheered Twain on, debunking critics who say her pop-leaning music isn't really country: "Well, Shania, that should shut everybody up," Gill said. "You did it, baby." Twain also was presented an award for promoting country music overseas.
The Dixie Chicks--Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Seidel--won for best vocal group, and their "Wide Open Spaces" was named best single and video.
Tim McGraw won best male vocalist and best album for "A Place in the Sun." Martina McBride was named best female vocalist.
Jones boycotted the awards because he was asked to shorten a performance of his single "Choices," which lost out to "Wide Open Spaces." But Alan Jackson, a close friend, closed his own performance of "Pop a Top" with a snippet of "Choices" in support of Jones, bringing the audience to its feet.
Jackson was inspired by a visit to Jones earlier this year in the hospital, after Jones nearly died because of a car wreck, said Jackson spokeswoman Kay West.
"Alan said that had George Jones died there, there would have been a 10-minute tribute to him on the show," West said. "But he lived, and they wouldn't give him three minutes."
Brooks & Dunn won their eighth straight nod as the best duo in country music.
Faith Hill's single "This Kiss" was named song of the year. The award went to songwriters Annie Roboff, Robin Lerner and Beth Nielsen Chapman.
Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty and Johnny Bond were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
About 6,000 members of the industry nominate and select the winners for the CMA Awards, which were broadcast on CBS.
Winners of 1999 Country Music Association Awards:
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR: Shania Twain
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Martina McBride
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Tim McGraw
SINGLE OF THE YEAR (for singer): "Wide Open Spaces," Dixie Chicks
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: "A Place in the Sun," Tim McGraw
HORIZON AWARD (for career progress): Jo Dee Messina
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR: Dixie Chicks
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR: Brooks & Dunn
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR: "Wide Open Spaces," Dixie Chicks
SONG OF THE YEAR (for songwriter): "This Kiss," Annie Roboff, Robin Lerner, Beth Nielsen Chapman
VOCAL EVENT OF THE YEAR: "My Kind of Woman/My Kind of Man," Vince Gill and Patty Loveless
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR: Randy Scruggs
INTERNATIONAL ARTIST ACHIEVEMENT: Shania Twain