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Miranda Lambert was proud to show off her home state of Texas to the world at Sunday night’s ACM Awards, where she picked up three trophies, including her fourth Album of the Year award.

Miranda says, “The crowd was so warm and so excited and such huge fans of country music, and you could feel it in the room. And that made me really happy. My chest was swelled up, ’cause I’m from around here.”

Miranda’s husband, Blake Shelton, hosted the show once again with Luke Bryan, but Miranda doesn’t have much of an idea of how he did as emcee. It turns out the sound was really bad in her section of the audience.

Miranda says, “My recommendation for next time, if it’s here, would be, like, have monitors for the artists so we hear what’s going on. But he’s hilarious. I’m sure he did amazing.”

Even though Miranda hasn’t seen much of Blake in the last few days due to his hosting duties, they’re used to spending time apart.

“It’s definitely a different way to live and to be in a relationship,” Miranda says, “but I feel like our relationship started on going separate ways, and we just make it work, and we make sure our time together really matters. So, when we’re apart, it’s not a big deal, because we know that when we’re together, we’re really together.”

Luke Bryan won his second Entertainer of the Year trophy at Sunday night’s ACM Awards, but time was running short as the CBS broadcast was drawing to a close. Luke only had 18 seconds to give his speech, but he had been onstage as co-host with Blake Shelton all night long.

Luke says, “Being a host, I’m backstage, and I can see the tenseness of this thing running over. There are many factors.”

He’s also glad Taylor Swift‘s mother, Andrea, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, had plenty of time on the broadcast to pay tribute to Taylor as one of the Milestone Award winners.

He says, “Taylor’s mother being up there and that opportunity with what is going on in their life. People want to talk. It’s a great thing. You don’t want to rush people winning awards.”

Luke also got to meet American Sniper Chris Kyle‘s widow, Taya, after the people on his staff initially turned her down for a photograph with him. Luke was in the middle of changing for the show, but immediately sent people to find Taya to get the photo once he realized who she was.

He adds, “[I] told her just how amazing the movie was and that their story is, and apologized. I had egg on my face big time that I didn’t get the selfie with her.”

— Playing for 70,000 fans at AT&T Stadium at Sunday night’s ACM Awards felt just like home for Jason Aldean, who won his third Male Vocalist trophy.

He says, “That’s kind of how I tried to approach my performance tonight, too, like I would in a normal show. ‘Cause a lot of times you get wrapped up in the fact that it’s an award show, and it’s real stiff and, ah, it’s just weird.”

Jason goes on to applaud the fans on hand for the show.

He says, “The crowd here in Dallas seemed like they were real into what was going on and obviously very supportive, which that just makes all the difference in the world.”

Florida Georgia Line are big fans of the bus compound for artists set up just outside AT&T Stadium for the ACM Awards. They got to spend lots of quality time with pals Jason Aldean and Jake Owen in between show rehearsals, and they even threw some hoops. FGL’s Tyler Hubbard adds, “There’s a full-court basketball court, just saying.”

The bus compound also gave Florida Georgia Line a chance to hang with their hero Alan Jackson, whose bus was parked next to theirs. They even gave him a red velvet cake and some crab.

FGL’s Brian Kelley adds, “Then he brought us some amazing sake. The fact that we exchanged gifts with Mr. Jackson, probably gonna pass out Monday, come Monday, ’cause that’s pretty surreal. But amazing time. Bus compound rocks.”

Lee Brice won ACM Single of the Year for “I Don’t Dance,” a song he wrote for the first dance at his wedding to wife, Sara. They celebrate their anniversary this week, too.

Says Lee, “Having her in my life has done a lot of stuff for me, seems like.”

Little Big Town‘s Karen Fairchild was thrilled to perform their latest hit, “Girl Crush,” for the 70,000 fans at AT&T Stadium Sunday night, but one audience member in particular made her a bit nervous  to sing the song.

Karen says, “I had to talk myself down from the ledge before I sang “Girl Crush,” ’cause I was thinking about Trisha [Yearwood]. Trisha was sitting right in front of us all night, and I love her so much. And Martina [McBride] and all these amazing vocalists, and I just thought, ‘Man, I gotta zone out and not think about Trisha.'”

While they look up to the acts that paved the way for them, Little Big Town also takes the time to encourage the next generation of country stars, like New Artist nominee Thomas Rhett.

Karen adds, “I love being backstage and seeing Thomas Rhett right before he goes on, and him saying, ‘Say a prayer,’ and me saying, ‘No, you say a prayer.’ I love that. I love the nurturing aspect.”

After they finished their backstage press duties, Little Big Town headed off to celebrate their win with a big dinner and some cocktails.

— Reba was honored with an ACM Milestone Award recognizing her as the all-time winner in the Female Vocalist category with seven trophies. Reba performed on Sunday night’s broadcast, but only Miranda Lambert got a performance slot among the current Female Vocalist nominees during the three-and-a-half-hour program.

When asked what advice she had for up-and-coming female acts like Maddie & Tae and Kelsea Ballerini, Reba said, “I hope they don’t get so discouraged that they quit, because it is so important to realize that everything is cyclical. Sometimes it’s very traditional, sometimes it’s very contemporary. Sometimes it’s all the girls are on the radio, sometimes it’s all the boys.”

As for what Reba would like to hear on country radio in the next few years, she told reporters,  “I hope it’s more romantic music with a lot more females on the charts.”

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