Along with co-hosting the show with Shelton for the first time, Georgia native Luke Bryan was visibly shocked and shaken to win the top trophy, entertainer of the year. The rising superstar also shared in the vocal event of the year prize with two other winners: Eric Church and Jason Aldean. Aldean was named male vocalist of the year, while Church earned album of the year for “Chief.”
Little Big Town was named vocal group of the year and received video of the year for “Tornado.” The duo Florida Georgia Line snagged the new artist prize.
As usual, the ACM Awards were as much about performances as trophies; the first award wasn't handed out until 45 minutes into the three-hour broadcast. Shelton and Bryan opened the show singing the Oklahoma native's new single “Boys 'Round Here” with Lambert, her Pistol Annies bandmates, Brad Paisley and Sheryl Crow, and they closed it performing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” with music legend Stevie Wonder and country newcomer Hunter Hayes.
Paisley also played with Hayes and Dierks Bentley in a new number that sampled Oklahoma-born country legend Roger Miller and later teamed with John Mayer. Tim McGraw shared the stage with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban.
But the highlight of the evening came when Oklahoman Garth Brooks and Texan George Strait — the last two winners of the ACM Artist of the Decade Award — performed together for the first time. The star-studded crowd gave the long-semi-retired Brooks an extended standing ovation as the Owasso resident belted his classic “The Dance.” He then joined Strait on the latter's venerable hit “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
The performance was a tribute to the show's former longtime producer Dick Clark, who died last year. McEntire, the show's former longtime host, explained that the Artist of the Decade Award has been renamed in honor of the entertainment impresario.
“He was responsible for bringing the ACMs to television and turning them into a world-class event,” the teary-eyed Reba said. “He was always there with a word of advice or a pat on the back. He even ran out here several times to save my butt when I got in a jam. I'll never forget him. Ever.”
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AT A GLANCE
Winners at the
Academy of Country Music Awards:
• Top male vocalist: Jason Aldean
• Female vocalist: Miranda Lambert
• Vocal group: Little Big Town
• Vocal duo:
• New artist: Florida Georgia Line
• Album of the year: “Chief,” Eric Church
• Single record of the year: “Over You,” Miranda Lambert
• Song of the year: “Over you,” Miranda Lambert, Blake
• Video of the year: “Tornado,” Little Big Town
• Vocal event of the year: “The Only Way I Know,” Eric Church, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean
For more about the awards, go to BAM's Blog at blog.