Strait won the Country Music Association's ultimate prize: entertainer of the year. After his win, Strait told me it came as a complete surprise.
"I totally just almost lost it. I really did. I was shocked," he said.
Blake Shelton took home album of the year honors for "Based on a True Story." Shelton won male vocalist of the year for the fourth time. His wife, Miranda Lambert, walked away with female vocalist honors, also for the fourth time.
"The first year you hope and you hope. And the second year, you're like, 'Maybe I'll get it again.' But now, I'm like, 'I can't believe it,'" said Lambert.
Florida Georgia Line won in two categories: single of the year for "Cruise" and vocal duo of the year.
Vocal group honors went to Little Big Town. Kacey Musgraves won new artist of the year. What a difference a year makes.
"Last year, there I was sitting with my roommate in a terrible seat, just as a fan, you know, just watching the show. And this year, you know, I get to be on the red carpet, and I win my first award, new artist. It's insane," said Musgraves.
Following his lifetime achievement honor, Kenny Rogers injected a little humor during our backstage interview.
"It recognizes I've been around a long time. I'm convinced you have to be 75 or older to win this," Rogers said.
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood co-hosted the show for the sixth time.
"I would describe it as of a brother-sister. We can pick on each other, but if somebody else starts picking on us, they better watch out," Paisley said of his bond with Underwood.
Some of the stars here for the CMA awards will be in Los Angeles later this month vying for American Music Awards.