Paisley won the coveted trophy at the awards show Wednesday night. He had been nominated every year for the award since 2005 but come away empty handed.
A tearful Paisley compared himself to a turtle on a fence post.
Paisley won in a category that featured two of the night's big winners. Miranda Lambert won three trophies while Lady Antebellum won two. Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band were also up for the award.
Country's "it" couple this year after their spring engagement, Lambert and Blake Shelton cleaned up while winning their first CMA awards. Lambert won female vocalist of the year, album of the year for Revolution and video of the year for The House That Built Me, which also scored song of the year for songwriters Tom Douglas and Allan Shamblin.
And Shelton won music event of the year for Hillbilly Bone with Trace Adkins before ending Brad Paisley's string of three straight male vocalist awards.
Lady Antebellum had been nominated for six awards, but won single of the year for crossover hit Need You Now and vocal group of the year, beating out Zac Brown Band, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town and the Band Perry.
"This has been the most incredible year of our lives. Country radio, y'all have been amazing for us," said singer Charles Kelley.
Kelley, a graduate of Lakeside High School in Evans, also thanked his brother and recording artist Josh Kelley for convincing him to move to Nashville six years ago, which led to the formation of the country band.
The group, which is composed of former Columbia County resident Dave Haywood and Nashville, Tenn.- native Hillary Scott, is in the midst of its first headlining tour, which will stop in Augusta on Monday for two sold-out shows.