SASKATOON -- Dean Brody, who sang about "Canadian Girls" looking sexy in their toques, choked back emotion Sunday as he was named male artist of the year at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards.

It was a good night for Brody.

He opened the show in Saskatoon with an enthusiastic performance of his hit single "Canadian Girls" before a crowd of more than 11,000 people and ended the night by winning album of the year for his record "DIRT."

The attention seemed to overwhelm the artist originally from Jaffray, B.C.

"It's kind of weird for me because I'm a pretty quiet person," Brody said backstage.

"I started this whole thing to be a songwriter. I actually moved to Nashville to be a songwriter and the whole artist thing just kind of evolved from being in Nashville and writing songs. Some people were like 'Man, it doesn't sound too bad when you sing. Maybe you should record 'em."'

"One thing led to the next. So to be in the spotlight...I'm getting more used to it, but it's always a little uncomfortable for me."

The first award of the night went to a woman familiar with winning.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson was named female artist of the year -- a title she's won four previous times. Johnson said her heart was pounding.

"I'm feeling very joyful right now and the kind of joyful that makes you want to cry. But anyway it doesn't get old. I'll say that," she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

Johnson, who has been writing and performing off and on since the 90s, said it's hard to describe how she got to this point in her career.

"I guess you just keep dreaming and you work hard," she said backstage.

"When I decided to do this I just went for it and worked my butt off and I still do. There's never a slacker day."

Johnson was presented her award by American country music superstar Taylor Swift, who praised the nominees for female artist of the year as inspirations for young girls.

Swift was at the show to receive the generation award, a new award that celebrates those who have pushed country music forward to new audiences.

"To country radio in Canada and to the music fans in Canada, you guys are the ones who chose to play my songs. You guys are the ones who chose to buy the albums and sell out the concerts," Swift said in her acceptance speech.

"And you're the ones who make me feel so at home that I can't wait to come back and see you every single time.

Jason Blaine's tribute to his grandparents' love story captured hearts at the award show. The Pembroke, Ont., native won single of the year for his song "They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore."

Kira Isabella won the rising star award.

Scottish-born, Toronto-bred crooner Johnny Reid was the fans' choice award. It was his fourth win in a row in that category.

"For me to be able to continue the only relationship that's ever really mattered in this business, and that's the relationship between me and the people, to be able to solidify that by picking up an award that's voted on by the people is both humbling and I'm very thankful for that," said Reid.

Husband and wife duo The Stellas won video of the year for "In This House."

For the second year in a row Hey Romeo was named group of the year.

"I think that's the most shocking thing because I thought last year was just some sort of fluke, that they maybe counted the numbers wrong," laughed Stacie Roper, who is part of the trio from Alberta.

"So to have this again is a huge blessing and we're super honoured."