The award to Chesney was presented by Shania Twain who made her first public appearance since her messy divorce from record producer Mutt Lange.
Other winners included George Strait setting a new CMA record with 22 trophies. He won Single and Album of the Year for "I Saw God Today" and "Troubadour."
Co-host Brad Paisley took home the Video and Male Vocalist of the Year awards, while Carrie Underwood won Female Vocalist of the Year for the third straight year.
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