Co-host Luke Bryan took home Entertainer of the Year honors at the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but it was Miranda Lambert who proved to be the night’s big winner. The wife of Bryan’s co-host Blake Shelton collected her sixth consecutive Female Vocalist trophy. Miranda’s “Automatic” won Song of the Year, and she also notched her fourth Album of the Year award, for Platinum. She is now tied with George Strait in the latter category.
Speaking of George, he was one of seven artists to receive the Academy’s 50th anniversary Milestone Award. The others were Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Miranda Lambert, Reba, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney. They were recognized for their career achievements.
In a particularly touching moment, Swift’s mother Andrea, who Taylor recently revealed via social media is battling cancer, presented the Milestone Award to her daughter, at one point gushing, “Like many of you out there tonight with children of your own, I am a very proud mom.” She also noted that Taylor, who released her first full-blown pop album, 1989, last year, was “brave enough to explore her musical curiosity.”
During her acceptance speech, Taylor praised her Music City family by declaring, “I am so happy I learned how to write songs in a town like Nashville.” She then thanked the country music community for showing her who they are with the “grace” with which they accepted her decision to go pop.
Garth Brooks also provided one of the show’s memorable moments by using his segment to pay tribute to America’s fighting men and women. He sang “All-American Kid” and, after receiving the Milestone Award from Taya Kyle, the widow of the late “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, noted, “I’d like …to thank all of our men and women in the armed forces…protecting our freedom.”
Jason Aldean was named Male Vocalist of the Year during the telecast, which aired on CBS.
At the top of the show, Shelton and Bryan revealed that the crowd of 70,252 that filled AT&T Stadium for the ceremony earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Attended Live Awards Show of All Time.”
Luke and Blake’s third ACM hosting gig was light on comedy. Instead, they made way for the long list of star presenters and performers. One of the few jokes of the night featured Shelton asking Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to throw a football ball to Bryan, who was wearing gloves. After Bryan caught the ball, Shelton asked Romo if it was one of those deflated balls, referencing the Deflategate scandal involving the New England Patriots earlier this year.
Randy Travis, who suffered a massive stroke two years ago, was in attendance. His presence was acknowledged by Lee Brice, who also sang a little of Travis’ classic “Forever and Ever, Amen.”
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