By Dan Whitcomb
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Carrie Underwood was named country music's top entertainer for the second year in a row on Sunday and Miranda Lambert won three awards, including best album, as the two young women ruled the once male-dominated Academy of Country Music Awards.
Underwood, a small-town Oklahoma girl who first shot to fame only five years ago on TV's "American Idol," became the first woman to win Entertainer of the Year twice -- firmly taking her place among country music's greats.
She was also given a special Triple Crown award for having already won three top awards -- new artist, female vocalist and entertainer of the year -- during her short career.
"Thank you God, praise the Lord," an exuberant Underwood, 27, said from the stage at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during a show broadcast live on CBS and hosted by Reba McEntire. "Thank you country music, God bless you country music."
Underwood's win comes just months after 20-year-old Taylor Swift was named entertainer of the year at the rival Country Music Awards, and she said backstage that it was a big night for women in country music.
"It's not just (Taylor and I), it's Miranda, she was all over the place tonight, and Reba who always continues to show us how it's done," Underwood said. "There are many beautiful, strong, extremely talented women making headlines left and right and I'm just so honored to be with them."
'THANKS FOR LOVING IT'
Lady Antebellum also had a lot to celebrate, winning top vocal group to snap a seven-year streak by Rascal Flatts. The Nashville-based trio's huge crossover hit "Need You Now," which spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard country chart, won for both best song and best single.
Lambert, 26, was named top female vocalist and given the prestigious award for best album for "Revolution," as well as taking home the best video prize for "White Liar."
"This music is what I do, it's the only thing I live for, thanks for loving it," Lambert said in accepting the best album trophy. Backstage, she seemed to be still stunned, telling reporters: "Are you freaking kidding me? I'm completely shocked. I don't even know what to say. That came out nowhere for me."
Underwood and Lambert kicked off the show, opening with an impassioned version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1970 rocker "Travelin' Band." They were joined for a verse by former Creedence leader John Fogerty.
Underwood competed for the fan-voted Entertainer of the Year against a field that includes a larger number of eight nominees, including veteran Kenny Chesney, who won it four years in a row until she snapped his streak in 2009.
Last year, Underwood became only the seventh woman to take the award.
Brad Paisley was named top male vocalist for the fourth year in a row and Brooks & Dunn, who have announced that they will split up after a farewell tour, won for best vocal duo. Luke Bryan was give the best new artist award.
(Editing by Vicki Allen)