Taylor Swift’s blue eyes filled with tears tonight as she was honored with the Country Music Association Awards’ rare Pinnacle Award, which has only been bestowed on Garth Brooks in 2005.
Though she knew about the award in advance of the ceremony, the 23-year-old pop/country crossover star seemed genuinely surprised by a video containing pre-recorded messages from some very big names. Mick Jagger praised her live performances, Vince Gill and Carly Simon each noted her songwriter gifts, and Justin Timberlake, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon and Ellen DeGeneres all offered congrats.
Taking the stage in a stunning wine colored gown, Swift acknowledged many of the artists she said helped her early in her career — including CMA co-host Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and George Strait. She thanked her fans and everyone who voted for her: “I love you, you’ve made me feel so special right now.”
The Pinnacle Award honors “an artist who has achieved both national and international prominence through concert performances and record sales at levels unique in country music.” Swift’s 2012 album “Red” has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.
Earlier in the show, Swift sang the title track off “Red” accompanied by country legends including Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Sam Bush. The stripped-down, acoustic arrangement highlighted Swift’s powerful vocals.
In addition to the Pinnacle Award, Swift shared Music Video of the Year and Music Event of the Year with Urban and Tim McGraw for their collaboration “Highway Don’t Care.” Watch the music video below.