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Luke Bryan triple winner at inaugural American Country Countdown Awards

Luke Bryan made a triumphant return to the stage after a short break from the spotlight, with three wins at the first ever American Country Countdown Awards on Monday night (15Dec14).

The Crash My Party hitmaker took a brief break following the death of his brother-in-law, Ben Lee Cheshire, who passed away last month (Nov14) at the age of 46, seven years after his wife Kelly - Bryan's only sister - died unexpectedly, aged 39.


Earlier this month (Dec14), the star decided to skip the CMT Artists of the Year event, where his friends Lady Antebellum dedicated a song to him, and on Monday, Bryan returned to the stage as he won the first prize at the American Country Countdown Awards.


As he picked up the Male Vocalist of the Year trophy, Bryan said, "I wanna thank all of my fans for the past couple of weeks in my life for keeping my family in your prayers and I want to recognize the country music community - they have rallied around me and helped me and my family through the past couple of week and its just nice to feel loved in this situation."


Bryan also won the Collaboration of the Year and Digital Song of the Year award for This Is How We Roll, his duet with Florida Georgia Line.


In addition to the two awards, the Cruise hitmakers, who also hosted the event, were named Group/Duo of the Year.


Mother-to-be Carrie Underwood kicked off the night of star-studded performances, by singing a medley of her hit songs to celebrate her 10 years in the music industry.


Other sets came from the likes of Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Artist of the Year Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, and Hank Williams, Jr., who closed out the show.


No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems hitmaker Kenny Chesney was presented with the Groundbreaker Award by actor pal Vince Vaughn in honor of the singer's contributions in "moving country music into new directions with his pioneering, record-breaking tours".


Music icon Reba McEntire was given the special Nash Icon prize for her outstanding achievements over the past four decades, and she was honored by her daughter-in-law Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert, who belted out a medley of some of McEntire's biggest hits.


The prizegiving, determined by the longest-running radio countdown in the U.S. hosted by Brooks & Dunn star Kix Brooks, was held at Nashville's Music City Center in Tennessee.


The full list of winners is:


Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean


Male Vocalist of the Year: Luke Bryan


Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert


Group/Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line


Album of the Year: The Outsiders, Eric Church


Song of the Year: Beat of the Music, Brett Eldredge


Collaboration of the Year: This Is How We Roll, Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan


Digital Song of the Year: This Is How We Roll, Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan


Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Kip Moore


Groundbreaker Award: Kenny Chesney


Nash Icon: Reba McEntire.