The Jackson family turned out in full force, as Jackson's wife, Denise, and daughters Mattie, 12, Ali, 9, and Dani, 6, accompanied country music's man of the hour at the genre's biggest night of the year, which was held at the Grand Ole Opry and televised live on ABC.
Jackson won for entertainer, male vocalist, album, single and song of the year. His award-winning album "Drive" contained the multiple-winning song "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)."
In a photo moment likely to grace magazine and newspaper pages for months, the Jacksons appeared backstage at the end of the night, each bearing one crystal statue.
"I'd thought I'd be home watching this in a recliner by now (in my career)," Jackson said backstage, "so I'm happy."
Much of Jackson's success during the past year has been spurred by the popularity of his poignant "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)," a song that Jackson wrote in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Jackson first performed the song in public at the 2001 CMA Awards. Since that time, he has sung the song hundreds of times, with one particular time standing out as the most memorable.
"Playing at the Pentagon was the most moving performance," Jackson said, "because a lot of survivors were there and families of the people who didn't make it."
During his acceptance of the single of the year award for "Where Were You," Jackson dedicated the win to "all the people who suffered" on Sept. 11.
"We should move on," he added, "but we should never forget."
While Jackson dominated the spotlight, others also basked in the winner's circle.
Martina McBride added a third CMA Award to her mantle when she received the female vocalist of the year award. The powerhouse vocalist has had two hit songs in 2002: "Blessed" and "Where Would You Be."
McBride also won the top female vocalist honor in 1999, as well as an award for top video in 1994 for "A Broken Wing."
"I was happy with one," a tearful McBride said backstage Wednesday. "I never expected to win again. It is really emotional to think I have this support from the industry."
Rascal Flatts, a young trio of Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney, were headed to the margarita machine on their bus following the awards to celebrate a couple of career highlights.
Earlier in the day, news came that Rascal Flatt's new album, "Melt," had debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country albums chart. The band topped off the night by receiving the Horizon Award, an honor bestowed upon the artist or group who had shown the most growth during the past year.
"So many artists have gone on to do great things after winning the Horizon Award," LeVox said backstage at the awards show.
"I remember Travis Tritt winning the Horizon Award (in 1991) and wondering what it would feel like to be on that stage," DeMarcus said.
Brad Paisley, who won the Horizon Award in 2000, took home another statue for music video of the year Wednesday. The video, which was shown during the show while Paisley performed, accompanied his No. 1 song, "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)."
"Man, I'm really tickled," Paisley said backstage.
Paisley, who conceived the idea for the video, invited various personalities to participate, including talk show host Jerry Springer, sportscaster Dan Patrick, country music legend Little Jimmy Dickens and actress Kimberly Williams. (Williams is Paisley's fiancée.)
The Dixie Chicks, who did not attend the show, received the vocal group of the year award.
Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison were in Texas, according to a CMA spokeman, awaiting the birth of Robison's first child.
Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack received top honors for vocal event of the year for "Mendocino County Line."
Jerry Douglas was named musician of the year.
While a man may have dominated the awards, the women created much of the buzz that surrounded the night.
The show opened to a rowdy, energetic performance by Shania Twain of her single, "I'm Gonna Getcha Good" from her new album, "Up!"
Twain, the CMA 1999 entertainer of the year, has been absent from the music scene during the past couple of years. During her hiatus, she and her husband, renowned producer Robert "Mutt" Lange, moved to Switzerland, where their first child was born.
"Being back (in Nashville) is special," the Canadian-born singer said backstage.
Twain -- who was headed for a record release party Thursday night at the Nashville home of her record label president, Luke Lewis -- said she is ready to get back on the road, and plans to begin touring in 2003.
"I enjoy being onstage," she said. "Being onstage is like being at a party with my friends. I'm really a bar singer who ended up on a concert stage."
Anyone wanting to debate whether Faith Hill sings country or pop music must agree on one point: she can flat-out sing.
Projecting more emotion and power than anyone else on the stage Wednesday, Hill -- who was nominated for female vocalist of the year, an honor she received in 2000 -- performed "When The Lights Go Down." The song, which received a standing ovation, is from her new album "Cry," which recently debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 chart.
Of course, McBride holds her own as well, proving she deserved her top female vocalist award when she performed "Concrete Angel," a new single for the diminutive singer with the big voice.
Another female singer who always causes a stir, Dolly Parton, was on hand to usher Porter Wagoner and Bill Carlisle into the Country Music Hall of Fame. As many know, Wagoner gave Parton her start when he featured her on his popular weekly show, "The Porter Wagoner Show."