Story by LB Rogers / Contributing Writer
The country music community gathered in Las Vegas Sunday night at the 53rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards for a night full of performances, new music and even new traditions.
This year’s ACM Awards brought back its longtime beloved host and 17-time ACM winner, Reba McEntire. McEntire served as an ideal host for the show’s nostalgic feel and message of female empowerment with her charisma and quick wit.
While most winners were expected — like Chris Stapleton for Male Vocalist Of The Year and Album Of The Year — there was one serious upset. Old Dominion took home Vocal Group Of The Year over previous winners Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum. They were shocked and emotional as they accepted their award.
Though it was brief, the ACMs did not neglect to remember the victims of the shooting in Vegas last October that left 50 country music fans dead and 851 injured at Route 91. Jason Aldean, who was performing at the time of the shooting and who would later win Entertainer Of The Year, led Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan in a moment for the victims at the opening for the show.
Several winners weren’t in attendance to accept their awards. Sam Hunt, who won Single Record Of The Year for his 25-week No. 1, “Body Like A Back Road,” was nowhere to be seen and neither was award winner Chris Stapleton, whose twin boys with wife Morgane were due to arrive.
Another big winner, Miranda Lambert, broke the record for the most ACM Awards when she won Song Of The Year for “Tin Man.” After later winning Female Vocalist Of The Year, Lambert tapped out at 30 ACM awards total.
Multiple performances glittered the show. Maren Morris literally sent glitter flying through the air when she performed her latest single, “Rich,” while Blake Shelton toned it down for his delivery of “I Lived It.”
After weeks of anticipation, Carrie Underwood returned to the ACM stage to debut her new single, “Cry Pretty.” The performance brought audience members to their feet and fans to Twitter as the emotional Underwood brought a vocally astounding delivery. Underwood would return to the stage in minutes to win Vocal Event Of The Year, alongside Keith Urban for their collaboration on “The Fighter.”
Many artists took the riskier route of performing new material on the ACM stage. Miranda Lambert previewed her new single, “Keeper of the Flame” and the energetic Chris Janson, who closed the show, performed his hot and heavy “Redneck Life.” Kelsea Ballerini played her new single, “I Hate Love Songs,” and Luke Bryan did the same with “Most People Are Good.”
The New Vocal Group Of The Year, Midland, stuck to what they knew when they played their debut hit, “Drinkin’ Problem,” and New Male Vocalist Of The Year Brett Young performed his “In Case You Didn’t Know.”
Fans also got to hear from their favorite legacy acts in a new segment of the show where they brought back songs from 25 years prior, paired with a modern artist’s rendition. Toby Keith sang his hit “I Should’ve Been A Cowboy” alongside Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson performed “Chattahoochee” with Jon Pardi and Reba played a hit she had with Linda Davis, “Does He Love You?” with Kelly Clarkson. Surprisingly, McEntire even did the song in the same dress that she performed it in at the ACM Awards 25 years prior!
Other ACM winners of the night included Brothers Osborne for Duo Of The Year and Video Of The Year, and Lauren Alaina for New Female Vocalist Of The Year.
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