Sta­ple­ton, Lambert, Un­der­wood and Ve­gas win at ACM Awards


The 2018 Academy of Coun­try Mu­sic Awards marked a mem­o­rable night for the vic­tims of the mas­sive Las Ve­gas shoot­ing, come­back queen Car­rie Un­der­wood and triple-win­ners Chris Sta­ple­ton and Mi­randa Lambert.

Ja­son Aldean paid trib­ute to the 58 peo­ple who died at the Route 91 Har­vest Fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas last Oc­to­ber when he was named en­ter­tainer of the year Sunday for the third con­sec­u­tive time.

“It’s been a rough year,” Aldean said, thank­ing those “that showed us love and sup­port over the last six months.”

The ACMs brought the coun­try mu­sic com­mu­nity back to Ve­gas six months af­ter the deadly tragedy. Aldean was per­form­ing on­stage when the shoot­ing oc­curred.

“You guys are in our hearts al­ways,” Aldean said. “We love Las Ve­gas. Ve­gas strong.”

Though Aldean beat out Sta­ple­ton for the top hon­our, Sta­ple­ton’s Sunday was met with many high points: His wife, Mor­gane, gave birth to twin boys; he cel­e­brated his 40th birth­day; and the lead­ing nom­i­nee, who didn’t at­tend the show, won male vo­cal­ist of the year and al­bum of the year, where he won twice as a singer and pro­ducer.

Un­der­wood also had a big night, re­turn­ing to the stage like an A-List vet­eran in her first tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ance since in­jur­ing her face and wrist last year due to a fall at her home. Her pow­er­house vo­cals shined when she per­formed her new song, Cry Pretty, earn­ing a rous­ing — and long — stand­ing ova­tion from the au­di­ence.

Im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the per­for­mance, she won vo­cal event of the year for the dance-in­fused coun­try song, The Fighter, with Keith Ur­ban.

“I am still kind of shak­ing right now,” she added, ap­pear­ing tearyeyed.

“See­ing her stand up there and be so beau­ti­ful, she’s one of the great­est singers of all-time in any genre of mu­sic,” Lambert said backstage of Un­der­wood. “I am just proud of her and I know how strong she is and how hard she’s worked.”

But Lambert’s hard work also paid off: She made his­tory when she sur­passed Brooks and Dunn as the most dec­o­rated act in ACM his­tory with 32 wins on Sunday. Lambert won her ninth con­sec­u­tive fe­male vo­cal­ist of the year tro­phy and won twice for song of the year — as the per­former and cowriter of Tin Man.

“I can­not be­lieve this. I re­ally can’t . ... I love coun­try mu­sic. It’s my en­tire life,” Lambert said on­stage. “I will never ever take it for granted.”

Florida Ge­or­gia Line’s Tyler Hub­bard wore an all-red en­sem­ble and Brian Kel­ley was in all-white when they hit the stage with pop singer Bebe Rexha to per­form the mas­sive hit Meant to Be, which is spend­ing its 19th week on top of Bill­board’s Hot coun­try songs chart. It ties Leroy Van Dyke’s Walk On By as the third long­est-run­ning song of all-time on the chart.

The long­est-run­ning No. 1 song of all-time on the coun­try charts, Sam Hunt’s Body Like a Back Road, won sin­gle record of the year at the ACMs; Hunt didn’t at­tend the show.

Lit­tle Big Town sang El­ton John’s Rocket Man in cel­e­bra­tion of the icon’s new al­bum, Restora­tion, which fea­tures coun­try singers cov­er­ing his songs. Kane Brown and Lau­ren Alaina were im­pres­sive when they sang their duet, What Ifs. Kenny Ch­es­ney, Toby Keith, Kelsea Bal­lerini, Alan Jack­son, Lady An­te­bel­lum and Dierks Bent­ley also per­formed.

McEn­tire, who per­formed with Kelly Clark­son, hosted the three­hour show a year af­ter Bryan and Bent­ley did the job.

“It takes one woman to do the job of two men,” she said, earn­ing a rous­ing ap­plause.

Old Do­min­ion won vo­cal group of the year, best­ing Lit­tle Big Town and Lady An­te­bel­lum.

Mi­randa Lambert

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