The Academy of Country Music Awards lit up Las Vegas!

What a night it was in Vegas! From the moment the country music community began to congregate on the Red Carpet to the very last acceptance speech, the night was filled with smiles and celebrations as the industry came together for one of the first times since the pandemic began. Tenille Townes put on a dazzling performance at the Red Carpet show to kick things off before gushing to me how excited she is to be coming back to the UK for C2C, “I don’t know how I managed to fit everything in one suitcase, but we’re packed and ready to get on that plane tomorrow!” She also spoke of her excitement of seeing her friend Lainey Wilson perform who had already accepted the award for New Female Artist of the Year but the night got even better for Wilson as her song ‘Things A Man Oughta Know’ beat out tough competition to take home Song of the Year.
The night was hosted by the legendary Dolly Parton who couldn’t have found a more dazzling outfit if she tried, she truly lit up the room in more ways than one! With her new novel co-authored with James Patterson coming on sale that day along with her new album to go with it, Parton treated us to a duet of ‘Big Dreams and Faded Jeans’ with Kelsea Ballerini.
She recognised that despite the jubilant occasion there was a sombre tone to the night as the people of Ukraine would be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Old Dominion acknowledged this too, speaking in their press conference how uncomfortable it felt to be celebrating their win for Group of the Year with Matthew Ramsay saying, “My heart hurts for those hiding in basements right now,” meanwhile, as Ramsay spoke those words backstage, the arena was reflecting on the events of 2017 at the Route 91 festival where 60 people lost their lives. Jason Aldean was on stage that day when the gunman opened fire and he, filled with emotion paid tribute to them before introducing Chris Stapleton who performed a song he had written in the aftermath.
He would later go on to pick up the award for Male Artist of the Year, whilst Carly Pearce won Female Artist of the Year to accompany the earlier award she picked up for Music Event of the Year, an award she won for her duet with Ashley McBryde on ‘Never Wanted To Be That Girl’. The pair took to the stage to sing the song in what was an emotional, heart-string tugging performance. And talking of strings, Thomas Rhett’s performance of ‘Slow Down Summer’ off his upcoming album boasts a beautiful string arrangement on the record but in a live setting it really amplified the emotion.
The ACM awards are known for their fantastic duets and collaborations so it was wonderful to see Breland and Rhett performing together and of course Carrie Underwood joining Jason Aldean for a rendition of Single of the Year ‘If I Didn’t Love You’, with Carrie coming down from the ceiling on a sort of hula-hoop.
One of the performances of the night came from Kelly Clarkson who paid tribute to Parton with her rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’. This was followed by the announcement that the top prize of the night, Entertainer of the Year, was won by Miranda Lambert! Earlier in the night she had picked up the award for Video of the Year alongside Elle King for ‘Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)’ but she has had an incredible year with various projects such as The Marfa Tapes having wide success. She truly deserves this award and it has been a long time coming for the Texas native who accepted the award via video link from London where she is staying ahead of Country 2 Country festival.
The Academy of Country Music put on a truly breathtaking show in Las Vegas which truly showcased the broad spectrum of what country music is today. With it being streamed on Amazon Prime it meant people from all over the world could watch the event live for the first time. The winners were deserving and the collaboration showed just what a tight-knit community we have in the genre.

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