Cover Sept 16, 2011

Story: Courtesy Jason Keller 
Canadian Press

Perennial favourite Johnny Reid and rising star Dean Brody split the haul on Monday night at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards.

Each artist took home three trophies at the award show being held this year at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum.

Johnny ReidJohnny ReidReid nabbed the fans' choice award, male artist of the year and the CMT video of the year honour with "Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World," a clip directed by Margaret Malandruccolo. The Scottish-born, Toronto-bred country crossover sensation came into the evening holding a leading six nominations, including album of the year, for his sixth studio album "A Place Called Love," which is certified double platinum in Canada.

But that honour went to Brody, a 36-year-old from Jaffray, B.C., for his heartfelt and autobiographical second album "Trail in Life."

"Every year I tell him 'one of these days, Dean, you're going to stand up there and take home not only a piece of glass but something much more than that,"' said Reid. "All the years and hard work ... to be recognized, it's wonderful."

Dean BrodyDean BrodyBrody was also named songwriter of the year for the album's title track prior to the CBC-TV broadcast, then was back during the telecast to accept single of the year for the same song.Brody, dressed casual in blue jeans and a plaid short-sleeve shirt, says the Trail has taken him from a place when he felt he was in the gutter to a career night at the CCMAs."At one point we're living in (my wife's) parents' garage, I was so embarrassed, was hiding out from my own friends in my own town," recalled a teary Brody during his speech. After the show, Brody, who performed his rocking and melodic number "People Know You by Your First Name," got emotional when asked about how far he had come in his career. "To be here today and to see my dad out there, he was crying. My dad doesn't cry. That means the world to me coming from where we started out."

Last year, Reid took home four trophies, including awards for single of the year, songwriter of the year and the fans' choice trophy. He was the big winner in '09 too, collecting prizes for album of the year, male artist of the year and, again, songwriter of the year. "It never gets old (winning)," said Reid. "And I really feel like I'm just getting started. There's so many more things I want to do in my career." Reid opened the evening's ceremony with his tune "Let's Go Higher." Midway through the song two people from the audience were hoisted up on cables, spinning like acrobats in what looked like a country music version of Cirque du Soleil.

Terri ClarkTerri ClarkCanadian country veteran Terri Clark topped the female artist of the year category for her fourth career CCMA. Clark was choked up during her speech too, telling the audience "I'm going to try and do this without crying," because it was her first CCMA without her mother, who passed away due to cancer at 60. "It was a little bittersweet winning the award tonight," said Clark, who performed a cover of Trooper's classic rock standard "Here for a Good Time." "She was extremely important to me. "I didn't think I was ever going to win one of these again. I won my first 16 years ago."

Chad Brownlee took home the rising star trophy -- his first CCMA award. The 27-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., who was once a draft pick for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks thanked his hockey buddies in his acceptance speech, saying they encouraged him to pick up the guitar and put down the skates.

"I grew a passion for music, it was undeniable," said Brownlee. "During my last year of hockey I had injuries, so it was one thing pushing me out, and one thing pulling me in."

Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy performed "Everyone Watched the Wedding" backed by CCMA nominees The Heartbroken. The easy-paced, acoustic tune was from his upcoming new solo record "Skyscraper Soul."

Richard Marx, known for his '80's easy rock hits such as "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Right Here Waiting," joined nominee George Canyon for "When Love is All You Got." The hearthrob duo had female audience members at full attention.

Edmonton's Hey Romeo, which includes members Stacie Roper, Darren Gusnowsky and Rob Shapiro, pulled off an upset in the best group or duo category. Nominee Doc Walker had won the award three years straight. "We had nothing prepared, it was shocking," said Roper while smiling and clutching the trophy. "I can't wait to tell my mom."

Two members of the Toronto Blue Jays, Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., and catcher J.P. Arencibia, introduced last year's male artist winner Gord Bamford, who performed "My Daughter's Father." The crooner from Lacombe, Alta., brought his nervous-looking five-year-old daughter to the stage to help him finish the chorus. Bamford was nominated for four awards but went home empty-handed.

Nova Scotia's Jimmy Rankin won roots artist of the year, breaking Corb Lund's seven-year grip on the trophy, and Michelle Wright was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

American country superstar Ronnie Dunn, best known for hit-making duo Brooks and Dunn, received one of the biggest responses among fans clamouring around the red carpet prior to the show.Wearing his leather jacket with collars flipped up, the 58-year-old played an orchestral song called "Bleed Red" under the stage's cool blue lights.He's currently on a solo tour after spitting with Kix Dunn and breaking up a 20-year partnership."We were ready for it," Dunn told The Canadian Press. "So far the response has been surprisingly positive. Glad to be here and have a job."