NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Keith Urban won video of the year and Carrie Underwood of "American Idol" was the only double winner at the Country Music Television awards show Monday. Keith performed the song for his winning video, "Better Life," with a displaced choir from the Gulf Coast and scenes from the hurricane-damaged region.
"We just wanted to present a better tone for 'Better Life,' and I had been down to New Orleans and was struck by a combination of things - how much has been done and how little has been done," Urban said. "We just wanted to bring a little more awareness back to the cause down there."
Underwood, launched her career last year after winning "American Idol," took home honors for breakthrough video and female video for her inspirational hit "Jesus, Take the Wheel."
"This is my very first acceptance speech so I made a list," Underwood said before thanking everyone from God to "Idol."
"Music videos are a huge tool," she said after the ceremony for the awards, chosen by fans. "Fans love them because they add a new dimension to the song, and we love them because it's just another way to get (the music) out there. For my first video to win two awards tonight was amazing."
Another song with a strong spiritual theme, Brad Paisley's duet with Dolly Parton "When I Get Where I'm Going," won for inspiring video.
Bon Jovi and Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles won collaborative video for "Who Says You Can't Go Home," and Kenny Chesney won the male video award for "Who You'd Be Today."
"I think everybody has lost somebody before they were meant to, and Shaun Silva and I did this video to help us all remember those people," Chesney said.
Rascal Flatts won the group/duo video award for "Skin (Sarabeth)," about a girl with cancer.
"I think this song took on a life of its own," said Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts. "It became almost bigger than we are, honestly. We were just the voice behind it."
Billy Currington won hottest video for his R&B flavored hit "Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right," and Sophie Muller won video director for the Faith Hill-Tim McGraw duet "Like We Never Loved At All."
Dwight Yoakam paid tribute to his friend and mentor Buck Owens, creator of the twangy "Bakersfield sound" and longtime "Hee Haw" host, who died of a heart ailment March 25.
Yoakam called Owens the "best friend country music could ever ask for" and an inspiration to thousands of musicians. Owens pioneered the California country rock sound that flourished in the 1960s with such groups as the Byrds, he said.
Hank Williams Jr. received the Johnny Cash Visionary Award for his contributions to country music, joining such previous winners as Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire and the Dixie Chicks.
"My father changed and molded country music. Johnny Cash changed and molded country music. Waylon Jennings changed and molded country music," Williams said. "I'm just a guy that is another carpenter in a long line, and there's a lot more new ones here tonight."
The son of the legendary Hank Williams began his career performing his father's songs, but in the 1970s forged his own identity by fusing country music with the Southern rock of groups, such as the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band.
Last month, his daughters - Holly Williams, 25, and Hilary Williams, 27 - were seriously injured in an auto accident.
Holly Williams attended the awards show; Hilary is still recovering, the singer said.
"I was spared and Hilary Williams has been spared," said the bearded singer, who almost died in a mountain-climbing accident in 1975.
Surrounded by scantily dressed dancers, Trace Adkins opened the show with his hip-shaking anthem "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," and host Jeff Foxworthy's monologue included cracks about the age of some of the newer artists.
"Miranda Lambert is so young that her tour is being brought to you by the letter J and the number 7," Foxworthy joked. Newcomer Lambert had been nominated for female video and breakthrough video for "Kerosene."
Fans voted online through April 7 to determine the winners in each category except video of the year, which was chosen by fans during the live telecast. The awards were first presented in 2002.