Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Carrie Underwood were the big winners Sunday night (April 18) at the 45th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Lambert and Lady Antebellum each won in three categories, and Underwood made history by becoming the first woman to twice win the ACM’s entertainer of the year award. She received her first ACM entertainer of the year trophy last year.
With Lambert and Lady Antebellum sewing up a total of six categories, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn and Luke Bryan were the only other acts winning awards during the presentation at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
One of the categories that went to Lambert — video of the year for “White Liar” — was announced Saturday (April 17) while she attended a reception honoring this year’s winners of the ACM’s broadcast awards. The video of the year award also went to producer Tameron Hedge and director Chris Hicky. Also Saturday, Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins were presented the vocal event of the year award for “Hillbilly Bone” during a private party sponsored by a soft drink company.
Sunday night, though, Lambert was jubilant when she and producers Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke received the album of the year award for Revolution, but she appeared to be genuinely dumbfounded when she heard her name announced as top female vocalist.
Referring to the other female vocalist nominees, Lambert said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Reba McEntire, Lee Ann Womack, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift — and me.
Considering that Sunday’s awards reflected accomplishments achieved in 2009, it looks like next year could be even better for Lady Antebellum. Their latest wins include top vocal group, and their hit, “Need You Now,” was named song of the year and single of the year. Band members Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott shared the song of the year honor with songwriter Josh Kear and the single of the year award with producer Paul Worley.
“We just want to say how much fun we’re having,” band member Charles Kelley said in accepting the single of the year trophy. “I just want y’all to know this moment is not lost in our eyes. We are living our dream right now. We’ve waited our whole lives for this.”
In addition to her entertainer of the year win, Underwood was presented the ACM’s Triple Crown award for having won in three key categories during her career — top new artist, top female vocalist and entertainer of the year. Awards show host Reba McEntire surprised her with the special award after Underwood performed “Temporary Home.”
Paisley also broke an ACM record by being named top male vocalist for the fourth consecutive year. Bryan, who had already been named top new solo vocalist, was named top new artist after edging out Gloriana and Joey & Rory in the fan-voted category. Gloriana had previously won the top new vocal group award while Joey & Rory had been named top new vocal duo by the fans.
Brooks & Dunn’s victory as top vocal duo is their 16th win in the category. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are about to embark on their last tour as a duo.
“What an amazing 20 years we’ve had, thanks to you,” Brooks said before making a reference to an NFL great who announced his retirement and then changed his mind.
“We are currently in therapy with Brett Favre trying to figure out how to waffle on this,” Brooks joked. “It’s very touchy, very difficult, very sensitive.
“The fans of country music, we’re going to be out there all this year, saying thank you. We hope you’ll come party with us because you’ve given us the dream that every country music singer and musician dreams of. … It’s just been a wonderful, amazing, incredible dream experience.”
The awards show opened with Lambert and Underwood kicking off an explosive arrangement of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin’ Band.” It led to a guitar solo by Paisley before CCR leader John Fogerty showed up for his guitar solo and vocal turn. To top things off, Charlie Daniels brought his fiddle to finish the tune.
Toby Keith’s performance of “Cryin’ for Me (Wayman’s Song)” struck an emotional note with the audience. A tribute to his late friend, former NBA player and jazz bassist Wayman Tisdale, Keith was accompanied by one of their mutual friends — jazz saxophonist Dave Koz.
Other performances were notable from a production and/or energy standpoint. Despite some audio problems early on, Brooks & Dunn performed “My Maria” as Dunn proved once again that he remains one of country music’s strongest vocalists. While singing “Change,” Taylor Swift hopped aboard a small stage that moved above the crowd and landed in the audience, allowing her to greet fans as she walked back to the main stage. She finished it off with a little crowd surfing.
Dierks Bentley joined Jack Ingram for a particularly spirited version of a fan favorite — Ingram’s “Barbie Doll.” Newcomer Laura Bell Bundy emphasized elaborate production and choreography while performing her debut single, “Giddy On Up.”
The show also featured live performances by Lady Antebellum (“American Honey”), Lambert (“The House That Built Me”), Paisley (“Water”), McEntire (“I Keep On Loving You”), Bryan (“Do I”), Gloriana (“Wild at Heart”), Joey & Rory (“Cheater, Cheater”), Shelton and Adkins (“Hillbilly Bone”), Billy Currington (“That’s How Country Boys Roll”), Kenny Chesney (“Ain’t Back Yet”), Rascal Flatts (“Unstoppable”), Jason Aldean (“Crazy Town”), Tim McGraw (“Still”), Keith Urban (“I’m In)” and Darius Rucker “Forever Road.” The Zac Brown Band, overseas for a USO tour, provided a video that included footage of their concerts and visits with troops.
Montgomery Gentry’s Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry received the ninth annual ACM/The Home Depot Humanitarian Award which honors country artists for their charitable work.