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Live blog: 2014 ACM Awards

by Brandy McDonnell Published: April 6, 2014
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The ACM Awards start at 7 tonight and as usual I’ll be blogging along. Follow updates below.

Brandy McDonnell 6:20 p.m. Hi everybody! The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards begin at 7 p.m. on CBS. They're broadcasting live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. So the live blog officially starts in about 20 minutes!
6:21 p.m.
For the second straight year, Luke Bryan, left, and Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton will co-host the ACM Awards. Hilarity seems to ensue when these guys are together.
Brandy McDonnell 6:38 p.m. Remember, fan voting for the New Artist of the Year category begins at will close at 7 tonight (before the live telecast begins), while fan voting for Entertainer of the Year will continue until the third hour of tonight's broadcast. To vote, go to www.voteacm.com.
Brandy McDonnell 6:39 p.m. Tishomingo power couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton both are nominated for Entertainer of the Year, along with Luke Bryan, George Strait and Taylor Swift.
Brandy McDonnell 6:40 p.m. New artist of the year nominees are Brett Eldredge, Justin Moore and Kip Moore.
6:41 p.m.
Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw are the leading nominees going into this year's ACM Awards. Both received seven nominations.
6:41 p.m.
Miranda Lambert and Tim McGraw are the leading nominees going into this year's ACM Awards. Both received seven nominations.
Brandy McDonnell 6:42 p.m. To read my ACM Awards preview (originally published Friday) click here: http://newsok.com/acm-award...
Brandy McDonnell 6:45 p.m. It's now 15 minutes until the show starts on CBS. Get ready!
Brandy McDonnell 6:48 p.m. So, far the Oklahoma nominees are lookin' good on the ACMs red carpet!
Brandy McDonnell 6:49 p.m. Here's the full nominations list, along with details on the stars with Oklahoma ties who are nominated, so you can keep score at home. http://newsok.com/article/3...
6:51 p.m.
Oklahoma City native Olivia Munn (pictured), Owasso resident Trisha Yearwood, Thea Andrews, Guy Fieri, LL Cool J, Jewel, Nancy O’Dell, Chris O’Donnell and Clay Walker have been confirmed as presenters for tonight's ACM Awards. (AP file)
6:53 p.m.
The performance lineup includes Norman resident Toby Keith (pictured), Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Lee Brice, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, Hunter Hayes, Justin Moore, Kip Moore, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, The Band Perry and Florida Georgia Line. (AP
6:56 p.m.
Blake Shelton and Shakira are among the special pairings planned on tonight's show.(Shakira and Blake are shown here on "The Voice," where they're both coaches.)
Brandy McDonnell 7:02 p.m. IT'S TIME! As promised, sibling trio The Band Perry is getting the 49th Annual ACM Awards off to a hot start with their new single "Chainsaw." Besides "Done," which was their last single and No. 1 hit, it's probably my favorite sassy song from their 2013 album "Pioneer."
Brandy McDonnell 7:03 p.m. We're 3 minutes in and it's already raining confetti. If I didn't know any better I'd suspect The Flaming Lips were involved. (Actually, it may be the only genre the Lips are not currently dueting and dabbling in, but maybe we just need to give Wayne Coyne and Co. time.)
7:04 p.m.
Neil Perry, and from left, Kimberly Perry and Reid Perry, of the musical group The Band Perry, arrive at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 7:05 p.m. Well, that was fun. And I'm inordinately giggly over the fact that country music's biggest stars got all dressed up and they're covered in confetti 5 minutes in.
Brandy McDonnell 7:06 p.m. Luke Bryan with the first zinger: "There's 20 million dollars in hairdos out here and they're all ruined. This is no a Head 'n' Shoulders commercial."
Brandy McDonnell 7:06 p.m. "I got one! I got one!" Blake Shelton exclaims after telling the crowd "If you don't like live music, you need to go down the street to see Britney Spears."
Brandy McDonnell 7:08 p.m. Bluke, as Luke and Blake, are known are pointing out that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is in the crowd. They're announcing that the ACMs will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year at Cowboys Stadium. Naturally, that sets up a joke about how rare it is to see a playoff game in there. Zing.
Brandy McDonnell 7:10 p.m. Carrie Underwood looks apprehensive when they bring up her great ratings for NBC's "The Sound of Music." But it's just to set up a joke at Blake and Miranda's expense that they'd be perfect for "Beauty and the Beast." I do like the idea that Vince Gill and Reba McEntire could do "Oklahoma!"
Brandy McDonnell 7:13 p.m. Jokes about same sex marriage and the entertainer of the year candidates are designed to set up jokes about Blake and Miranda's love life, and her eyes just keep getting bigger. Maybe it's time to get out while the getting's good fellas (though I liked that before marijuana dispensaries became legal in some states, country music thought that was Eric Church's tour bus), so they're sending it over to the ACM Fan Jam at Mandalay Bay.
Brandy McDonnell 7:14 p.m. Unfortunately, that means that Florida Georgia Line is now performing its latest hit "Stay." Not a fan.
7:15 p.m.
I still don't get the appeal of Florida Georgia Line, folks. (AP file)
Brandy McDonnell 7:16 p.m. Since we're in Las Vegas, it's time for a pool party, and country music superstar Brad Paisley is performing in front of a packed pool of bikini-wearing fans. I love him so much, but I will love him more if he jumps into that pool at the end. Without his electric guitar, of course.
7:18 p.m.
Brad Paisley is rocking his new single "River Bank" on tonight's ACM Awards. He took selfies and other photos, but unfortunately he did not jump into the pool at his party. (AP file)
7:22 p.m.
Blake Shelton, left, and Miranda Lambert arrive at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. "Beaty and the Beast?" Whatever, Luke Bryan. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 7:24 p.m. Blake Shelton is back with his guitar in hand, and he and his past "The Voice" Team Blake contender Gwen Sebastian are giving a very alluring acoustic performance of his ballad "My Eyes." Very romantic and seductive. (You know else is alluring? Awards at an awards show. We're 23 minutes in and we've got nothing so far.)
Brandy McDonnell 7:26 p.m. That was a gorgeous performance by Blake and Gwen. A nice change of pace to slow it down, but they're sending it back over to Mandalay Bay and the first of three New Artist of the Year nominees, Brett Eldredge. He's my favorite of the field, which also includes Kip Moore and Justin Moore.
7:28 p.m.
New Artist of the Year nominee Brett Eldredge sounded smooth with his performance of a shortened version of his song "Beat of the Music."
Brandy McDonnell 7:28 p.m. We're already to the second commercial break, and still no awards have been handed out on this awards show.
Brandy McDonnell 7:31 p.m. OK, there have been a couple of early awards given, and we already have one Oklahoma winner, along with three trophies for Australian superstar Keith Urban: Urban earned two trophies as producer and performer when he and Miranda Lambert won vocal event of the year for their duet "We Were Us" before the awards. And Urban's "Highway Don't Care" collaboration with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift won video of the year. Five big winners for two categories almost makes up for getting a half-hour into the actual show without a trophy being handed out.
Brandy McDonnell 7:34 p.m. Martina McBride is coming out to introduce a performance Entertainer of the Year George Strait. He's the reigning artist of the decade and a hitmaker beyond compare. And since he's retiring from the road this year, I will be very surprised if this cowboy doesn't ride away with one last Entertainer of the Year trophy.
7:36 p.m.
George Strait has the star-studded crowd totally in his thrall as he croons his latest story-song ballad "I Got a Car." Most don't know the words, but they're all eyes on him. (AP file)
Brandy McDonnell 7:37 p.m. That's the third time the cameraman has cut to Carrie Underwood in the crowd. What is Taylor Swift not there tonight? That's usually their favorite crowd shot target.
Brandy McDonnell 7:37 p.m. All hail King George. He gets an extended and enthusiastic standing ovation. Of course.
Brandy McDonnell 7:39 p.m. I've never been there but the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas must be HUGE. They're panning over now to a small stage in the middle of the massive crowd where Male Vocalist of the Year nominee Lee Brice is passionately crooning his heartbreaking hit "I Drive Your Truck."
Brandy McDonnell 7:41 p.m. Food Network star Guy Fieri is wearing a crazy black and gray camo tuxedo jacket and talking about his dream of opening a Vegas restaurant, which is coming true. And he's introducing a video montage of ACM Awards-related activities that have gone on in Vegas over the past week. Yay and stuff, but we're 40 minutes in and still no awards. Why does "Vegas Go Country" every year again?
7:44 p.m.
Lee Brice was giving a compellingly raw performance on his grief ballad "I Drive Your Truck" that was unfortunately cut down to a snippet. To make room for a video montage introduced by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, of course. (AP file)
Brandy McDonnell 7:47 p.m. Eric Church is taking the stage with his guitar, and and sunglasses. Ordinarily, I'd be so excited, but the fact that there have been more awards given out before the show than on the actual ACM Awards when we're more than 45 minutes into the actual live broadcast is starting to become a big distraction for me. That being said, Eric Church sounds amazing, of course.
7:49 p.m.
Eric Church has the crowd clapping and stomping along as he croons his anthemic hit "Give Me Back My Hometown" with feeling. Dude has charisma and style, plus plenty of substance. I pretty much love him. (AP file)
Brandy McDonnell 7:50 p.m. Thea Andrew is saying the New Artist of the Year has been chosen by the fans ... and will be revealed later in the show. Along with all the other awards, too. She's introducing the short performance by the second of the three nominees (and the first of the Moores in this category): Justin Moore.
7:53 p.m.
New artist of the year Justin Moore just performed a snippet of his new song "Lettin' the Night Roll," which to me sounds like just about every other Justin Moore song besides my fave of his "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away." (AP file)
Brandy McDonnell 7:54 p.m. For the record, we're on the third commercial break for the ACM Awards and so far we've had ZERO awards given out and ZERO solo female performers (although The Band Perry is fronted by Kimberly Perry and Gwen Sebastian did a great job backing up Blake Shelton). And we've had one big montage. So I don't know that I have to tell you that the ACMs are really getting on my nerves right now.
Brandy McDonnell 7:57 p.m. Next year, I'm starting a pool on when the first trophy will be handed out on the ACM Awards. First slot will be the 30-minute mark, even though we're 25 minutes past that now.
Brandy McDonnell 7:59 p.m. Awards are gonna have to wait: We've got our second Blake Shelton performance coming up, his hot anticipated live duet with his fellow "The Voice" coach Shakira. It's the song "Medicine" from her new self-titled album, and I like it a whole lot more than I ever expected. As Luke Bryan said in his intro, there is a language barrier, but they actually sound really great together. This song was cannily chosen especially to suit this unusual pairing.
8:00 p.m.
Shakira arrives at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. And as promised, she and Blake heated up the stage with their duet "Medicine." (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 8:01 p.m. OK, that was a smoking hot highlight, and not just because of Shakira's little red lingerie dress. They legitimately sounded great together and obviously enjoyed performing together.
Brandy McDonnell 8:02 p.m. Taylor Swift is coming out in a white halter top, a long black skirt and a sexily messy updo - and she's holding an envelope!! She's actually going to present an award!! Who had one hour and 2 minutes in our imaginary poll.
Brandy McDonnell 8:02 p.m. T-Swift is gonna present vocal duo of the year to one of these folks:
· Big & Rich

· Dan + Shay

· Florida Georgia Line

· Love and Theft

* Thompson Square
Brandy McDonnell 8:03 p.m. Winner: No surprise here, it's Florida Georgia Line. I was rooting for the Oklahoma connection and Thompson Square, but this is not a shocker. The best thing I can say about this, though, is that one of these FLGA Line guys is wearing a Garth Brooks shirt and they remembered to thank the Lord.
8:05 p.m.
Florida Georgia Line continues their hot streak.
Brandy McDonnell 8:07 p.m. Luke and Blake are back to their shenanigans. They're looking for people to be in selfie similar to the one Ellen DeGeneres took at the Oscars, which naturally turns into an occasion to make fun of their wives, Tim McGraw and the reverence country music has for George Strait. They finally decide to take it with just the two of them because they're the most famous people there. They even make sure to turn so Sheryl Crow won't be in it. Funny!
Brandy McDonnell 8:08 p.m. Of course, it's just a fun and fanciful setup to introduce one of the night's most anticipated pairings: Lady Antebellum with Fleetwood Mac legend Stevie Nicks. They start out crooning Lady A's low-key ballad quite prettily, but you know that's not gonna last ...
Brandy McDonnell 8:09 p.m. Yep, we're cranking it up for a cover of the Mac's "Rhiannon." Hilary Scott is obviously having a great time belting this classic with a rock 'n' roll legend. Stevie's voice may not be the crystalline instrument it was in her heyday, but it's still got that compelling timbre to it that works so well on this particular song.
Brandy McDonnell 8:10 p.m. The crowd was on its feet at the opening notes of "Rhiannon" and they're cheering wildly.
Brandy McDonnell 8:12 p.m. We're keeping it rocking with a quick switch to yet another stage where Male Vocalist of the Year nominee and already three-time winner Keith Urban is belting his new song "Even the Stars Fall 4 U," a title I like about as much as Keith's new short haircut - not at all. Grammar issues not withstanding, it's a bit vanilla for my taste. It's got a nice rocking guitar vibe, but mostly it sounds like most every Keith Urban song.
8:14 p.m.
Stevie Nicks, second from right, and from left, Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, of Lady Antebellum, arrive at the ACM Awards on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. I enjoyed their collaboration. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 8:14 p.m. The third Artist of the Year nominee Kip Moore is performing his biggest hit, "Something About a Truck." I like his voice, but this song is just a laundry list of bro-country cliches. I'm glad we're only getting a snippet because I don't really need to hear more about girls, fields and trucks. Apparently, that's what the country top 10 is for.
8:18 p.m.
Keith Urban arrives at the 49th annual ACM Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. His guitar solo rocked, naturally, but I'm not a fan of his new song "Even the Stars Fall 4U." (AP)
8:21 p.m.
New Artist nominee Kip Moore just performed his hit "Something About a Truck." Trucks equal hits these days. And cliches do, too, apparently. (AP file)  
Brandy McDonnell 8:23 p.m. Blake deliberately messes up his co-hosts name as he introduces Luke Bryan's performance. Luke is wearing a nice leather-esque black jacket and his trucker cap is missing, which I would take as a good sign if he weren't already singing about "pouring sugar in her Dixie cup." It's his song "Play It Again," which again, sounds like every other Luke Bryan song. Sigh. Bro-country, man.
8:24 p.m.
Luke Bryan and Caroline Boyer arrive at the ACM Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014. Luke is singing "Play It Again," which sounds like he's literally playing every song he's ever done. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 8:26 p.m. Florida Georgia Line is cutting it over to a montage and the announcer for an extended intro to our New Artist nominees:
Kip Moore
Justin Moore
Brett Eldredge
Brandy McDonnell 8:26 p.m. Winner: Justin Moore.
Brandy McDonnell 8:28 p.m. "I was beginning to think there might be a height requirement for this award," Justin jokes. Love that! He's thanking country radio for "taking a chance on a hillbilly from Arkansas." He's getting emotional as he thanks his wife and wife. "Thank y'all, I'll never forget this," he finishes in a choked voice. Great speech.
8:32 p.m.
Despite some controversy about his eligibility - he's already released three major-label studio albums, after all - Justin Moore won the fan-voted ACM New Artist of the Year award moments ago.
Brandy McDonnell 8:34 p.m. Luke Bryan is dogging on Jason Aldean hunting abilities, calling him a "blind deer's best friend" by way of introducing the superstar. Aldean is dressed all in black as he takes the stage with his new country-rock ballad "When She Says Baby." I like his drawl, the crunchy guitars and the lack of the word "girl" in this song.
8:35 p.m.
Jason Aldean is performing "When She Says Baby," one of my favorite songs of his in a long while.
Brandy McDonnell 8:36 p.m. It looks like Daft Punk is taking the stage in their signature robot helmets, but of course, it's Blake and Luke. "Where the hell is Pharrell at, man, he's supposed to announce the nominees?" Blake says as he rips his helmet off gasping. "How the hell are you supposed to get lucky in that thing. I couldn't even breathe!" responds Luke.
Brandy McDonnell 8:37 p.m. Once they get their breath back, they'll be perform single of the year to one of these acts, preferably Miranda.
· Cruise – Florida Georgia Line

Producer: Joey Moi

Record Label: Republic Nashville

· Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw Featuring Taylor Swift & Keith Urban

Producers: Byron Gallimore, Tim McGraw

Record Label: Big Machine Records

· I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice

Producers: Lee Brice, Kyle Jacobs, Matt McClure

Record Label: Curb Records

* Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert

Producers: Chuck Ainlay, Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf

Record Label: RCA Nashville

· Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker Featuring Lady Antebellum

Producer: Frank Rogers

Record Label: Capitol Records Nashville
Brandy McDonnell 8:37 p.m. Luke lets Blake announce the winner: Miranda Lambert! And she gets a standing O!
Brandy McDonnell 8:38 p.m. "Thank you. That's awesome! Thank you robots," she says with a big grin. She's thanking the songwriters, the fans and the people who worked on the fun video. She's guiding her helmeted husband off stage. So sweet!
8:39 p.m.
Miranda Lambert has already won two ACM Awards tonight.
Brandy McDonnell 8:41 p.m. If you want to cast a last-minute vote for Entertainer of the Year, go to www.voteacm.com. To recap, your choices are Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, George Strait and Taylor Swift.
8:42 p.m.
These guys are pretty funny! Hosts Luke Bryan, left, and Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton speak on stage at the 49th annual ACM Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 8:46 p.m. "This next performer and I have a lot in common: We share the same taste in songwriting, the same nomination for entertainer of the year and the same bed. You know what I'm saying? You know what I'm saying? So you know I'm not talking about Luke," Blake says, introducing his "amazingly talented, breathtakingly beautiful wife, Miranda Lambert.
Brandy McDonnell 8:48 p.m. Looking fresh and gorgeous in slim dark pants and a white tank top with elaborately rhinestoned collar, Miranda is crooning her nostalgic new hit "Automatic." I like it - details like going to the big city to buy and Easter dress and recording country songs off the radio onto cassette really resonate - but it's no "Mama's Broken Heart." Still looking forward to the June release of her new album "Platinum."
8:49 p.m.
Miranda Lambert arrives at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. Her performance outfit wasn't nearly this racy but she still got huge cheers. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 8:51 p.m. Oklahoma City native Olivia Munn looks stunning (as usual) in a deep-cut red gown. She and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers are going to present song of the year, and "Mama's Broken Heart" is a contender again:

· Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain) – Gary Allan

Songwriters: Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey, Matthew Warren

Publishers: Always Alone Songs (ASCAP), Crystal Beach Music (BMI), Raylene Music (ASCAP)

· I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice

Songwriters: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary

Publishers: Beattyville Music (BMI), EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. (BMI), Great Day At This Music (BMI), Happy Tears Music (ASCAP), Vistaville Music (ASCAP), Watch This Girl Publishing (BMI)

* Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert

Songwriters: Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves

Publishers: 351 Music (BMI), Crazy Water Music (ASCAP), Little Blue Egg (ASCAP), Songs of Parallel (ASCAP), Vista Loma Music (ASCAP), Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)

* Mine Would Be You – Blake Shelton

Songwriters: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Deric Ruttan

Publishers: Doc and Maggie Music (ASCAP), EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. (BMI), Get A Load Of This Music (ASCAP), Great Day At This Music (BMI), Hopeless Rose Music (ASCAP), Vistaville Music (ASCAP), Watch This Girl Publishing (BMI), WB Music Corp. (ASCAP)

· Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker Featuring Lady Antebellum

Songwriters: Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor

Publishers: Blood Donor Music (BMI), Special Rider Music (SESAC)
Brandy McDonnell 8:53 p.m. Winner: "I Drive Your Truck," and the crowd is on its feet for a loud and appreciative standing ovation. Lee Brice graciously says "this isn't for me, it's for the songwriter" and turns the mic over to an emotional Connie Harrington, who thanks the usual suspects as well as the military families who know what it's like to live the words of this song, about the brother of a soldier who loses his life in the line of duty.
Brandy McDonnell 8:58 p.m. It seems like awhile since we've heard Tim McGraw perform on an awards show, but since he tied Miranda for the artist with the most nominations, it's no surprise to see him hear. He's all decked out in a tuxedo and his trademark black hat and sitting at an old-school microphone to croon his new song "Meanwhile Back at Mama's House."
Brandy McDonnell 8:59 p.m. Big cheers from the crowd as Tim's wife Faith Hill takes the stage in a slim and sparkling gown to croon along with him on his new song. I have to say this nostalgic little ditty is one of my favorites of Tim's in awhile.
9:00 p.m.
Faith Hill, left, and Tim McGraw arrive at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. Even after all these years they make a great pair in a duet. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 9:01 p.m. Tim and Faith finish their collab with a kiss, a bow and a standing O from the crowd.
Brandy McDonnell 9:02 p.m. "For every trip Luke and I make from here back to MGM Grand, we're getting reimbursed 15 cents a mile. We're gonna make it rain in the club tonight!' says Blake Shelton, who is back at the secondary venue, Mandalay Bay to introduce Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line's performance. Blake has even found time to change into jeans, a button-down and handsome vest around the way. Our co-hosts are working hard tonight, people.
9:03 p.m.
Faith Hill, left, and Tim McGraw arrive at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 9:05 p.m. "This Is How We Roll," Florida Georgia Line and Luke are semi-singing, semi-yelling, semi-rapping. They have BMX bikers, pyrotechnics and a guitarist with a Statue of Liberty mohawk. But it's still not how I roll.
Brandy McDonnell 9:05 p.m. The fireworks at the end were the best part of that.
Brandy McDonnell 9:06 p.m. Checotah native Carrie Underwood looks stunning in her long white down with sparkling fringe. She's going to present the male vocalist award .. hopefully to Blake.
Jason Aldean

· Lee Brice

· Luke Bryan

*Blake Shelton

· Keith Urban
Brandy McDonnell 9:07 p.m. Winner: Jason Aldean. I'm disappointed. I don't care how many times he's won it, Blake has the best voice in country music right now. "This is really unexpected," Jason says, thanking his label, producer, country radio and the fans. "It's been one helluva ride, so I hope it doesn't end anytime soon."
Brandy McDonnell 9:08 p.m. "Shut Up and Hold On," here comes Toby Keith. He's singing his latest hit with fireworks, pyrotechnics and horns to go with his usual drawl. I like it a lot.
Brandy McDonnell 9:09 p.m. It looks like every neck in the crowd is bobbing to Toby's song.
9:10 p.m.
You can always count on Toby Keith to be Toby Keith, even if that means adding horns to his song. Big applause from the crowd for the Oklahoma superstar. (AP file)
Brandy McDonnell 9:15 p.m. Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert will be among the star-studded performers who are getting together again tomorrow to tape "ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops" http://newsok.com/acm-award...
Brandy McDonnell 9:17 p.m. "A couple of proud Texans," George Strait and Jerry Jones are taking the stage to tell us more about the 50th anniversary ACM Awards, which will at the home of the Dallas Cowboys next year. Tickets on sale this April 15. Go to ACMAwards50.com for more info.
Brandy McDonnell 9:18 p.m. TV personality Nancy O'Dell and rising country star David Nail are going to present vocal group of the year:

· Eli Young Band

· Lady Antebellum

· Little Big Town

· The Band Perry

· Zac Brown Band
Brandy McDonnell 9:18 p.m. Winner: The Band Perry.
Brandy McDonnell 9:20 p.m. "ACMs, this is a mountaintop moment in the life of The Band Perry," says Kimberly Perry. "And we appreciate it so much because we started out at the bottom." She dedicates to "the climbers" out there. Great speech!
Brandy McDonnell 9:21 p.m. Jewel looks stunning in a flowing white gown elaborately trimmed in black sparkles. She's introducing the ACM Lifting Lives efforts to end childhood hunger through Feeding America. Hunter Hayes is taking the lead on the project, and the young star is coming out to perform his song "Invisible."
9:23 p.m.
Kimberly Perry, of the musical group The Band Perry, performs at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. After opening the show with their hair-raising (sorry, not sorry
Brandy McDonnell 9:25 p.m. Hunter Hayes' new anthem "Invisible" sounds kind of cloying and cliched to me at 37 years old, but I would have loved it as a bullied small-town middle schooler desperate to get out of my tiny hometown and into the big wide world.
9:25 p.m.
Hunter Hayes arrives at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 9:25 p.m. The crowd gives Hunter a great big standing ovation. I love their appreciation for this talented, earnest young star,
Brandy McDonnell 9:32 p.m. Owasso resident (for now) Trisha Yearwood takes the stage looking sleek in a short leopard print dress to present female vocalist of the year ... hopefully to Miranda or Carrie:
· Sheryl Crow

* Miranda Lambert

· Kacey Musgraves

· Taylor Swift

* Carrie Underwood
Brandy McDonnell 9:33 p.m. Winner: Miranda Lambert, who gets a big hug from Sheryl Crow.
Brandy McDonnell 9:34 p.m. "I cannot believe this," Miranda Lambert says. "I was just hanging out with Trisha Yearwood, holy crap." She's giving a shout-out to her fellow nominees (calling Carrie Underwood her buddy). She's also dedicating the award to some friends in her hometown of Lindale, Texas, who are going through a hard time "and have a little angel in heaven." Sweet.
Brandy McDonnell 9:36 p.m. Darius Rucker is performing his hit "Wagon Wheel" with Lady Antebellum for backup. They've got the whole crowd on their feet to dance and sing along. For the record, the instrumental part would be much better from Old Crow Medicine show, but I've loved Hootie's voice since I was a teenager. So it's hard not to smile when he sings.
9:37 p.m.
Blake Shelton, right, kisses Miranda Lambert's hand backstage at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. She's a three-time winner tonight. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 9:38 p.m. Now Darius is presenting album of the year ... hopefully to Blake:
* Based On A True Story… – Blake Shelton

Producer: Scott Hendricks

Record Label: Warner Bros. Records

· Crash My Party – Luke Bryan

Producer: Jeff Stevens

Record Label: Capitol Records Nashville

· Here’s To The Good Times – Florida Georgia Line

Producer: Joey Moi

Record Label: Republic Nashville

· Same Trailer Different Park – Kacey Musgraves

Producers: Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves

Record Label: Mercury Records

· Two Lanes Of Freedom – Tim McGraw

Producers: Byron Gallimore, Tim McGraw

Record Label: Big Machine Records
Brandy McDonnell 9:39 p.m. Winner: Kacey Musgraves, who looks stunned.
Brandy McDonnell 9:40 p.m. "I can tell you, I really did not expect this one," she says breathlessly. "I want to say I'm really proud to be a woman representing country music." Amen, sister. She looks like a princess in that pale blue gown, and she thanks her little sister at the last moment. Love her.
Brandy McDonnell 9:41 p.m. Both Blake and Luke are taking the stage to introduce Oklahoma megastar Garth Brooks, who is presenting the Crystal Milestone Award to none other than Merle Haggard. So deserving.
Brandy McDonnell 9:43 p.m. George Strait and Miranda Lambert are performing in honor of Merle. When King George and the hottest woman in country music are performing in your honor, it's big. And the "Okie from Muskogee" deserves every bit of it.
Brandy McDonnell 9:44 p.m. King George sounded incredible - as expected - doing “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.” Now, Miranda is unleashing the full force of her twang on “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down." I love Carrie Underwood's mom singing along!
9:45 p.m.
Miranda Lambert won female vocalist and then sang a tribute to Merle Haggard tonight. Big night for her. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 9:46 p.m. Garth Brooks leads the star-studded crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" as Merle Haggard takes the stage to receive his award. Today is his 77th birthday.
Brandy McDonnell 9:47 p.m. A man of few words, Merle just says country music has meant a lot to him and thanks everyone for their participation in what has been an "eventful night." Short but sweet. And again, so well deserved.
Brandy McDonnell 9:48 p.m. The late, great Oklahoma native Paul Harvey's "God Made a Farmer" truck commercial is the only thing that's even close to being as country as the Merle Haggard tribute.
9:50 p.m.
"Country music's been great to me all my life," says Merle Haggard, winner of the ACM Crystal Milestone Award.
Brandy McDonnell 9:52 p.m. More Oklahoma star power: trio Rascal Flatts (which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney) is performing its new single "Rewind." Singer Gary LeVox just worked a request for a George Strait encore into the lyrics. I'm finding it hard to imagine a scenario in which King George doesn't win Entertainer of the Year.
Brandy McDonnell 9:53 p.m. "Tonight is more than just an awards show. It's our audition to replace David Letterman," Luke tells a skeptical-looking Blake Shelton. "You think that's gonna happen?" Blake replies, "Do you think hell just froze over?" So they're gonna introduce another performance ...
Brandy McDonnell 9:54 p.m. But I'm gonna allow it with no complaints because it happens to be one of my favorites: Dierks Bentley, doing his anthemic new song "I Hold On," with help from Sheryl Crow.
Brandy McDonnell 9:55 p.m. OK, this is my new favorite special pairing of the night. I think Dierks and Sheryl should form a permanent duet. They should terrific together.
9:57 p.m.
Dierks Bentley rocked his duet with Sheryl Crow. That is all.
Brandy McDonnell 9:57 p.m. "NCIS: Los Angeles" stars Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J are gonna present entertainer of the year:
· Luke Bryan

*Miranda Lambert

*Blake Shelton

· George Strait

· Taylor Swift
Brandy McDonnell 9:58 p.m. Winner: Yep, it's King George. He's gotta a grin the size of Texas on his face and everyone in this arena standing and cheering for him.
Brandy McDonnell 9:59 p.m. "Wow," says George. "I always said I had the greatest fans in the world, and I heard this was a fan-voted deal. So I rest my case." Gotta love King George. It's hard to imagine Miranda Lambert would have looked happier winning it herself.
Brandy McDonnell 10:01 p.m. "Our hero. Our hero won tonight! That's how it's supposed to be," says Blake. He's telling everyone "we'll see you next year in Texas." "We love ya," adds Luke as the credits start to roll.
10:02 p.m.
George Strait performs on stage at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. Moments ago, he also won entertainer of the year. (AP)
Brandy McDonnell 10:02 p.m. The nightly news is starting and my deadline is looming, so that will close our our live coverage. Look for more on the ACM Awards on BAM's Blog in the coming days. Thanks for following along tonight!

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 than 1...
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