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Live blog: 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards

by Brandy McDonnell Published: April 1, 2012
Carrie Underwood (AP file)
Carrie Underwood (AP file)

7 p.m.: Checotah native and two-time ACM Entertainer of the Year winner Carrie Underwood is kicking off the show in flashy Vegas fashion, strutting her stuff in a short hot pink fringed number, singing into a fancy walking stick-inspired mic and belting her latest hit, “Good Girl.” She’s got her band all decked out in matching white outfits and got all kinds of geometric patterns and ladies’ silhouettes in white and pink flashing behind her. It’s setting the tone in more ways than one: It’s got plenty of Vegas glitz, and it’s also an Okie performer. There are plenty of those on the lineup, plus at least one Okie in every category except one.

Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton
Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton

7:04: The ever-youthful Reba McEntire, radiant in a shimmering red gown, and the always-ornery Blake Shelton, chic in a gray suit, are taking the stage to co-host for the second straight year. The Oklahoma-born and bred superstars are exchanging barbs: She says she remembers when he was just a “life support system for a mullet,” and he jokes that he didn’t get to see a lot of her early work “until we got the History Channel.” Now, they are riffing on the Peyton Manning-Tim Tebow situation: Blake jokes that the Broncos were so desperate to win a Super Bowl, “they were actually willing to sacrifice a virgin.” He’s quipping that Taylor Swift has a new perfume called “I can’t believe I smell this good” while impersonating her now-famous surprised award show face. When Reba says our fighting men and women are watching the show tonight, Blake adds “and we’re not talking about Miranda Lambert and Chris Brown either,” referencing his wife’s post-Grammys Twitter feud. He’s a bold one to drag his wife into this.

Chris Young
Chris Young

7:10: Male vocalist of the year nominee Chris Young is the next performer on the lineup – there are reportedly two dozen or so that will be playing in the next three hours – and he’s singing his raucous party anthem “Save Water, Drink Beer.” Which reminds me: Does anyone want to guess who the “special surprise Las Vegas performers” will be who are due to appear with Okie Toby Keith on “Red Solo Cup”? I’m thinking at least one of them has gotta be Wayne Newton.

Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band

7:12: For the second straight year, Sugarland is over at nearby Mandalay Bay for the ACM Fan Jam. They’re introducing this year’s Fan Jam headliner: Zac Brown Band. ZBB is playing its breezy ballad “Keep Me in Mind.” I got to talk to ZBB fiddler Jimmy De Martini, who is stealing the show as usual, just a couple of days ago about the band’s upcoming OKC show. The Georgia-based band is playing Chesapeake Energy Arena on April 26; that ought to be a heck of a show.

The Band Perry
The Band Perry

7:16: They’re kicking it back to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where the actual awards show is taking place, and Reba is quickly introducing the next performers: The Band Perry, whose “If I Die Young” has been downloaded an astounding 4 million times. The sibling trio is playing its latest brokenhearted ballad, “Postcard from Paris.” I think the Perry kids’ voices and stage presence just keep getting better, which is frankly a bit scary. Love the old-school-look lighted sign, too.

7:20: Well, we’re 20 minutes in and we’ve had three performances and not one trophy handed out. I really need to start a pool for all of us to participate in next time, guys.

7:21: If you haven’t voted for entertainer of the year yet, you can still do that at www.voteACM.com. Your choices are Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley.

Toby Keith
Toby Keith

7:24: Toby Keith just tweeted (@TobyKeithMusic) that he received the ACM video of the year award for his viral video smash “Red Solo Cup” on the red carpet. Congratulations to Toby! It’s wasn’t a big surprise, but it certainly was well-deserved. Here is the list of who the Norman resident beat out:

Video of the Year (Award to Producer(s)/Director(s)/Artist(s)) *(Off Camera Award)

Homeboy – Eric Church

Producer: Brandon Arolfo

Director: Peter Zavadil

Just A Kiss – Lady Antebellum

Producer: Don Lepore

Director: Shawn Silva

Mean – Taylor Swift

Producer: Oualid Mouaness

Director: Declan Whitebloom

* Red Solo Cup – Toby Keith

Producer: Mark Kalbfeld

Director: Michael Salomon

Tattoos On This Town – Jason Aldean

Producer: John Burke

Director: Wes Edwards

Keith Urban (AP file)
Keith Urban (AP file)

7:26: The always-dapper and sexy LL Cool J, who can rock a lavender tie like no other, is paying tribute to all our military men and women and telling the crowd to “stand up to our military,” prompting a standing O. He’s noting that he plays a former Navy SEAL on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and he won’t be the last CBS homer that will be on the show. He’s introducing Keith Urban’s performance of the military tribute song “For You,” which is from the soundtrack to the movie “Act of Valor,” featuring active duty SEALs. Such an earnest, tuneful musical homage to our servicemen and woman. I think the country awards shows do such a great job of remembering to tip their hats to our military folks. And I love watching Keith Urban play the guitar. He rocks! And I love the ongoing standing O.

7:32: More than half an hour in, and Beth Behrs, star of CBS’ sitcom “Two Broke Girls,” is all decked out in a dress with a giant pink bow for a neckline, and ready to gift some artist with the first award of the night. It’s for song of the year, and Oklahoma native Vince Gill is in the running with an awesome song.

Song of the Year (Award to Composer(s)/Publisher(s)/Artist(s))

Crazy Girl – Eli Young Band

Composers: Lee Brice, Liz Rose

Publishers: Cake Taker Music (BMI), Mike Curb Music (BMI), Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI), Sweet Hysteria Music (BMI)

Home – Dierks Bentley

Composers: Brett Beavers, Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson

Publishers: Big White Tracks (ASCAP), Chestnut Barn Music (BMI), Chrysalis Music/BMG Rights (ASCAP), Chrysalis One Songs (BMI)

Just A Kiss – Lady Antebellum

Composers: Dallas Davidson, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott

Publishers: Dwhaywood Music (BMI), EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. (BMI), EMI Foray Music (SESAC), Hillary Dawn Songs (SESAC), Radiobulletspublishing (BMI), String Stretcher Music (BMI) Warner-Tamberlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)

* Threaten Me With Heaven – Vince Gill

Composers: Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Dillon O’Brian, Will Owsley

Publishers: Grant Girls Music (ASCAP), Vinny Mae Music (BMI), Willie-O Music (ASCAP)

You And Tequila – Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter

Composers: Matraca Berg, Deana Carter

Publishers: Deanaling Music (ASCAP), Hannaberg Music (BMI), Songs of Universal Inc., (BMI), WB Music Corp. (ASCAP)

Eli Young Band
Eli Young Band

7:33: Winner: Eli Young Band’s breakout hit “Crazy Girl.” The Texas country band looks sincerely shocked. Frontman Mike Eli tells everyone “I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life” before encouraging people to follow their dreams and sending love to his wife, who is expecting their baby girl any day. All the other band members quickly take their turns at the mic, and I think the producers must be among the legions of loyal EYB fans thrilled to see them win their first ACM because they didn’t have a hair trigger on the go-away music. I’ve been following EYB for a long time now since they frequently play here in Oklahoma, and “Crazy Girl” has really taken their career and popularity to a whole new level.

Blake Shelton (AP file)
Blake Shelton (AP file)

7:41: Reba is introducing male vocalist nominee, entertainer of the year nominee (you can still vote) and “as far as I’m concerned, the best co-host of all time,” Blake Shelton. The Ada native is crooning his new hit, “Drink on It.” It’s a drinking song and a ballad, so it’s covering all the bases for Blake, but I notice he had to perform a bit of an edit on the lyrics to make them more TV friendly. And it looks like his Team Blake competitor from “The Voice” Gwen Sebastian is there to sing back up. Blake will be performing again later in the show with music icon Lionel Richie.

7:45: Eli Young Band is all smiles as it returns with Grace Potter to present album of the year, and I’m rooting for Miranda Lambert to win her third album of the year trophy!

Album of the year (Award to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company)

Chief – Eric Church (EMI-Nashville)

Produced by: Arturo Buenahora, Jr., Jay Joyce

* Four The Record – Miranda Lambert (RCA)

Produced by: Chuck Ainlay, Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf

Hemingway’s Whiskey – Kenny Chesney (BNA)

Produced by: Buddy Cannon, Kenny Chesney

My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean (Broken Bow Records)

Produced by: Michael Knox

Own The Night – Lady Antebellum (Capitol Records Nashville)

Produced by: Lady Antebellum, Paul Worley

Miranda Lambert (AP file)
Miranda Lambert (AP file)

7:46: WOOT! Winner: Miranda Lambert. Miranda, looking terrific in a golden gown, hugs her grandma, covers her face and then celebrates for a minute with Lady A’s Charles Kelley, who graciously came over to cheer for her. After hugging the rest of the trio, Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean, she heads to the stage with a “Seriously?” She notes she owns all the albums in the category and didn’t think she’d win because they’re all so good.

“I will never take this trophy for granted. My albums are my babies,” she says.

Go RAN!

Hunter Hayes
Hunter Hayes

7:48: We’re back to Zac Brown Band and the ACM Fan Jam, where ZBB is introducing new artist of the year nominee Hunter Hayes, who’s performing a bit of his breakout hit “Storm Warning.” He’s such a cutie as he says “thanks so much for letting me play a bit for you.”

Little Big Town
Little Big Town

7:50: Now, Hunter is pitching it back to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where quartet Little Big Town is singing a mash-up of his song “Here’s Hope” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Now, the Clark County Children’s Choir is singing along, with those sweet little voices augmenting LBT’s great harmonies. This is the ACM Lifting Lives performance, and it’s very uplifting. The standing O is very deserved. This special musical moment is part of ConAgra Foods’ “Child Hunger Ends Here” campaign, and it’s the ACM’s annual charity effort. Very nice all around.

7:57: Reba has finally swapped out gowns, this time wearing a sparkling black number with her signature flame-colored tresses dramatically straightened to go with it. I thought she must be approaching a record for wearing the same dress; it had been nearly an hour without a wardrobe change.

Jason Aldean
Jason Aldean

7:58: At any rate, Blake and Reba are introducing entertainer of the year nominee Jason Aldean, who is surrounded by flashing red lights as he performs his awesome smash “Flyover States.” I love this song; it may just be my favorite single for him. (My fave album cut would probably be the title track from “Wide Open”). And he’s getting a standing O.

8:00: Reba and Blake also told us in their intro of Jason that he and Kelly Clarkson won vocal event of the year for “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” So well done there.

Here are the others who were nominated:

Vocal Event of the Year (Award to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company) *(Off Camera Award)

Country Boy – Aaron Lewis Featuring George Jones & Charlie Daniels (R&J Records)

Produced by: Aaron Lewis, James Stroud

Don’t You Wanna Stay – Jason Aldean With Kelly Clarkson (Broken Bow Records)

Produced by: Michael Knox

Old Alabama – Brad Paisley Featuring Alabama (Arista Nashville)

Produced by: Frank Rogers

* Remind Me – Brad Paisley Duet With Carrie Underwood (Arista Nashville)

Produced by: Frank Rogers

You And Tequila – Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter (BNA)

Produced by: Buddy Cannon, Kenny Chesney

KISS (AP file)
KISS (AP file)

8:02: Legendary rock band KISS is taking the stage in full makeup, and Gene Simmons declares “This is country music, let me hear ya!” They’re gonna present the best vocal group award to one of these nominees:

Vocal Group of the Year

The Band Perry

Eli Young Band

Lady Antebellum

* Rascal Flatts

Zac Brown Band

Lady A (AP file)
Lady A (AP file)

8:04: Winner: Lady A. “This is crazy,” says Dave Haywood. “I feel like I need to pull down my shirt and show a little chest hair,” quips Charles Kelley. I bet the ladies would be OK with that. They’re thanking all the usual suspects and then taking time to thank their legendary presenters.

BTW, Lady A will be in Norman Saturday to play a show, and KISS is coming later this year to Tulsa’s BOK Center, for all you Oklahoma music fans out there.

Brantley Gilbert
Brantley Gilbert

8:05: Back over the ACM Fan Jam, where ZBB is introducing new artist nominee Brantley Gilbert, who is playing a bit of his hit “Country Must Be Country Wide,” while rocking his biker look and a background of flames. Total contrast between Brantley and Hunter. Wild.

Eric Church
Eric Church

8:06: Talk about wild: Brantley kicks it back to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where his tourmate Eric Church is sitting behind a keyboard and quietly playing the intro to his hit ballad “Springsteen.” Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Eric Church and I adore the song, but it’s a lot calmer than normal for the country rocker. Still, it’s showing off that great voice and songwriting ability, so I’m all for it. Love this guy. And I think he rocks the mirrored sunglasses better than anyone except maybe Okie native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell.

8:16: LeAnn Rimes is dressed in an absolutely crazy, off-the-shoulder, short, polka dotted dress and Jake Owen is looking sexy with his long hair and suit. But they’re not just eye candy – They’re gonna present single record of the year:

Single Record of the Year (Award to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company)

Crazy Girl – Eli Young Band (Republic Nashville)

Produced by: Mike Wrucke

Don’t You Wanna Stay – Jason Aldean With Kelly Clarkson (Broken Bow Records)

Produced by: Michael Knox

* Red Solo Cup – Toby Keith (Show Dog-Universal Music)

Produced by: Toby Keith

Tomorrow – Chris Young (RCA)

Produced by: James Stroud

You And Tequila – Kenny Chesney Featuring Grace Potter (BNA)

Produced by: Buddy Cannon, Kenny Chesney

Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson (AP file)
Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson (AP file)

8:18: Winner: Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson. Jason says he and his producer were discussing adding a female voice to the song and Kelly was the first name that came to mind. “She came in and made it a great song. She really took it to a new place,” he says. Kelly thanks the country community for welcoming her from the pop world. That’s a great ballad but I can’t say it was my favorite in the category. I love “Red Solo Cup,” of course, and I was hoping “You and Tequila” would win at least one award.

Lady Antebellum (AP file)
Lady Antebellum (AP file)

8:20: Blake and Reba come back to make a few quips, mostly at the expense of Lindsay Lohan and JetBlue, which at this point is well-plowed comedic territory, before introducing Lady A to perform their lovely, very wistful new ballad “Dancing Away with My Heart.” Such pretty harmonies.

8:29: We’re back over to the ACM Fan Jam, where the third and final new artist nominee Scotty McCreery is performing a bit of his latest single “Water Tower Town.”

Brad Paisley (AP file)
Brad Paisley (AP file)

8:30: Scotty is kicking the action back to the main show and laying on the praise for entertainer of the year nominee Brad Paisley, who is wailing on his electric guitar as he plays one of my favorites of his “Camouflage.” This song is so hilarious and it’s true “ain’t nothing that doesn’t go with ‘Camouflage.’” On the sheer power of his guitar solos, this man has got the crowd on its feet, cheering and ready to spray paint their entire bodies tan and olive green.

8:35: Last year’s winner The Band Perry and a couple of elaborately dressed showgirls are going to present the new artist of the year award. It’s a fan-voted award and the cheers are favoring Scotty:

Scotty McCreery

Brantley Gilbert

Hunter Hayes

Scotty McCreery
Scotty McCreery

8:36: Winner: Scotty McCreery. The “American Idol” victor is graciously praising his fellow nominees, along with the fans and his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He sure seems like a sweetheart.

Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts

8:40: I’m hearing a banjo, so it must be time to pay tribute to legendary banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs, who died last week. Reba is calling him a “true American original,” and Blake is pointing out he won Grammys, ACMs and even a National Medal of the Arts. Appropriately, Rascal Flatts (which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney, who is rocking that silvery suit!) is going to perform its new hit, “Banjo,” with Grammy-winning banjo player (as well as comedian, actor and writer) Steve Martin on the titular instrument. Steve Martin is so cool. This is the first single from the Flatts’ new album “Changed,” due out Tuesday. And I think it may just be my favorite of theirs, since I adore a good banjo solo.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin

8:45: This is my favorite song and performance from Rascal Flatts EVER. Very deserved standing O. Can Steve Martin just join the Flatts?

Toby Keith (AP file)
Toby Keith (AP file)

8:46: Blake is introducing the biggest hit since someone knocked on Osama Bin Laden’s door and he said “who is it?” That means it’s time for Toby Keith, who doesn’t edit his incredibly catchy party anthem for TV. He’s singing it testicles and all.

The Norman resident’s making his way through a crowd of fans who are happily crooning along as they wave their red Solo cups and he chirps out what he has called “the stupidest song I’ve ever heard.” It’s sure infectious, though. As promised, we’ve got cameos from a couple of Las Vegas performers: I believe I caught a glimpse of Wayne Newton, as anticipated, along with comedian Carrot Top, who appeared in the “Red Solo Cup” video. Eric Church, who was also in the video, is toasting with two cups instead of blowing on his improvised RSC bong. And we’ve got everyone from Carrie Underwood to Taylor Swift singing along and/or bobbing along.

Sara Evans
Sara Evans

8:50: Even the incongruous sight of Marc Anthony uttering the word “howdy” had trouble getting everybody back on track after TK’s performance of “Red Solo Cup.” But the Latin star managed to get Sara Evans introduced, and now she’s crooning her heartbreaker “My Heart Can’t Tell You No.” I’m glad we have her back among the active country star ranks. It’s not my favorite song of hers, but she has a pretty voice.

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw

9:00: I love Reba’s latest gown, with its glistening silver bodice ending in flame-like feathers or fringe at the bottom. Anyway, she and Blake are introducing the network TV debut of “Brothers of the Sun,” the team-up of superstars Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, who are hitting the road together this year. They’re thrilling the crowd with their duet “Feel like a Rockstar.” That’s a lot of star power and handsome for one stage. It’s a standing ovation from the crowd, plus an obligatory closeup on Tim’s wife, Faith Hill.

9:04: Ashton Kutcher is getting a little too into the country bit with a bright red jacket with white piping, a black cowboy hat and a big belt buckle. He’s going to give out the female vocalist award, but he’s singing a bit of George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart” first, dedicating it to the also-rans. The man is cute but he’s no George Strait. Here are the noms:

Female Vocalist of the Year

Sara Evans

* Miranda Lambert

Martina McBride

Taylor Swift

* Carrie Underwood

Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert

9:06: Woohoo! Winner: Miranda Lambert. Her jaw just dropped backstage, where she was getting ready to perform. The Tishomingo resident thanks Jesus for giving her a gift she can share with the world. She then declares herself a fan of country music, adding “I’m so proud of us right now. We deserve this” as she hoists her latest trophy.

Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert

9:12: “Here to perform the most important and personal song of our lives together is the most important person in my life, Miranda Lambert Shelton,” is the introduction Blake gives his sweetie, who has won two ACMs tonight to go with the four ACMs she took home last year. Lambert takes the stage to sing the emotional ballad “Over You,” which she and Shelton penned in honor of his late brother, who died when Blake was a teenager. Miranda sounds great and she looks amazing in one of the most unusual getups of the night: a shiny black bustier with a skirt that has a black and white pattern and a big swirl of feathers, with lots of glitters at her ears and neck. Like the music video, she’s belting with fake snow falling around her. Such a beautiful performance.

Liam Hemsworth in "The Hunger Games"
Liam Hemsworth in "The Hunger Games"

9:16: Reba has got her hair in an updo and a glittery deep blue gown on, which matches the dark blue suit of the presenter she’s introducing: the handsome “Hunger Games” star Liam Hemsworth. The Aussie actor is at the ACM Fan Jam and he can sure fill out a suit, but he don’t get much chance to enjoy it, as he quickly sends the show over to his friends, the Zac Brown Band, who are just playing the fire out of their high-energy hit “Whiskey’s Gone.” They’re joined by  Brad Paisley, who’s wearing one of Zac’s signature stocking hats and is rocking away in full-blown guitar god mojo. This is an amazing performance that just boosted the energy level about 1,000 percent.

Dierks Bentley
Dierks Bentley

9:20: U2′s Bono is appearing via video to say that Dierks Bentley’s “Home” reaches out to him in his home in Ireland. When he hears it, “I feel patriotic about America and I’m not even American,” he says. He’s saying that he thinks country fans understand better than anybody that America is about more than geography, it’s about an ideal. Such wonderful words. And it’s leading up to great, heartfelt rendition of a truly wonderful song. I’ve loved Dierks for a long time, but never more than right now. My heart feels just lifted by this. So moving.

9:31: “Entertainment Tonight” host Nancy O’Dell is introducing the lucky couple who will be married on tonight’s ACM Awards. It’s a first for the awards show, and I have to say that the story of this couple makes it worthwhile:

Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci thought they would never find love again. In July 2009, Frank lost his wife, Danielle, to thyroid cancer and in that same year, Christina lost her husband, Paul, in a tragic drowning accident. As a way to deal with the grief of losing her husband and raising her two sons, Stephen and Paul, on her own, Christina started a support group for young widows and widowers in Washington Township, N.J., where she met Frank. Slowly their friendship blossomed into love as they bonded over their shared views about the challenges of single parenthood and the struggles to keep the memories of their spouses alive.

Martina McBride
Martina McBride

9:33: Their wedding song is “Marry Me,” by Martina McBride and Pat Monahan of Train. We’re hearing a snippet of the preacher talking to the couple, who look lovely in their finery, and then Martina appears in a lovely flowing white and shimmering gown. The producers are smoothly interspersing bits of the preacher’s words with the performance as Monahan takes the stage. I’m not a fan, but he’s not nearly as whiny as usual and Martina is always great.

It’s a crazy way to get married, but the couple are exchanging rings and lighting their unity candle onstage behind the singers. They look really happy as he kisses the bride to a standing ovation and they get hugs from their famous wedding singers.

And it’s surely not the craziest wedding that will happen in Vegas tonight! So good luck to them!

Thompson Square (AP file)
Thompson Square (AP file)

9:38: Reba has ditched the updo – thankfully – and she’s introducing Thompson Square, who last night received the vocal duo of the year award. Now they will set up the video montage about what happens when Vegas goes country, a quick look at all the country music festivities that have been happening in the past week leading up to the ACMs.

I’m so excited that Thompson Square, which consists of Miami, OK, native Keifer Thompson and his wife Shawna, won the vocal duo award. But I wish they could have gotten the trophy tonight so that we could hear them. I’m sure their acceptance speech would have been awesome!

Look for my interview with Thompson Square, who will open for Lady A Saturday in Norman.

Luke Bryan
Luke Bryan

9:44: Looking handsome in his jeans, white T-shirt and trademark trucker cap, Luke Bryan is crooning his down-home ballad “I Don’t Want This Night to End.” He’s such a country boy, so it’s funny that he has the rock-star laser lights going. But they match the rock-star energy he brings as he struts and jumps around the stage. And he’s got a bunch of the crowd on its feet and Reba howling in excitement.

9:48: Reba is introducing Taylor Swift, joking that she got stuck behind her at the airport metal detector and knows firsthand that she got 11 awards last year. Taylor looks elegant in her white gown with the gold embellishments and sexy cutouts, but she’s not there to perform, she’s there to present best male vocalist. Go Blake!

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jason Aldean

Kenny Chesney

Brad Paisley

* Blake Shelton

Chris Young

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton

9:50: Winner: Blake Shelton! Woot! He looks genuinely shocked as he heads up to the stage and comments “that was a real surprised face” as he takes the trophy from Taylor. He’s saying “holy crap” and thanking the usual suspects before paraphrasing Dierks’ song “Been a long hard ride, got a ways to go, but I’m proud to take this home.” Good for him! Now he just needs the entertainer trophy!

Lionel Richie (AP file)
Lionel Richie (AP file)

9:55: Lionel Richie is taking the stage to introduce the final and biggest award, the fan-voted entertainer of the year. Can anyone match the fan support of Taylor Swift?

Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean

Kenny Chesney

Brad Paisley

* Blake Shelton

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift (AP file)
Taylor Swift (AP file)

9:56: Nope. Winner: Taylor Swift, the only one of the nominees who did not perform tonight. She’s hugging just about the entire front row, including Lady A, Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney. “Thank you so much for the fans who voted for this. I’m so excited about this,” she says. “To my fellow nominees, I respect you so much.” She’s giving a shout-out to her family as well to her would-be date Kevin McGuire, who was hospitalized over the weekend as he continues to battle cancer. Then, she’s thanking the fans again. She toned down the surprised face, but she’s still just as fervent as ever about thanking her fans, which undoubtedly has something to do with her having so many.

9:57: We’re cutting over to Blake and Reba, where she is consoling Blake, who is pretend crying and inquiring “Is there a silver medal or something?” Nope, but he’s going to close out the show performing “You Are” with Lionel Richie. It’s a preview of the ACM’s Lionel Richie concert special, which will be taped Monday and then air April 13. The whole crowd is on its feet and clapping along and helping out with the “whoa-ohs.” They have great chemistry together, and that’s my favorite duet of Lionel’s new duets album “Tuskegee,” which I’ll be reviewing for you soon.

Well, that’s the show. Thanks for following along with me during my annual ACM Awards live blog! Look for more coverage tonight and Monday!

-BAM

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by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more...
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