By Mes­fin Fekadu

Arab Times - - FEATURES -

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 honor, 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 teary-eyed.

“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 co-writer 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 allred 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 three-hour 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.

“This is heavy in a lot of ways,” lead singer Matthew Ramsey said, hold­ing the tro­phy in his hand.

“We’re so lucky. Look at us, look at us!” he said about his band­mates, all dressed in trendy suits. “We look good. We feel good. We’re friends. And we’re hav­ing a ball. “Thank you for let­ting us make mu­sic.” In a post on her web­site last week, Un­der­wood said her face is “heal­ing pretty nicely” since a Novem­ber ac­ci­dent that re­quired 40 to 50 stitches to her face — and based on a photo she posted on In­sta­gram late Satur­day in ad­vance of her per­for­mance on the ACM Awards Sun­day, she’s right.

While the cap­tion for that post said sim­ply, “Had a great re­hearsal for the @ac­mawards ! Can’t wait un­til to­mor­row night!,” she wrote at greater length about the in­jury in the note on her web­site.

“First off, phys­i­cally, I’m do­ing pretty darn good these days!,” she wrote. “My wrist is al­most back to nor­mal, about 90% there...and the docs say that last 10% will come in time. And my face has been heal­ing pretty nicely as well. I def­i­nitely feel more like my­self than I have in a while.”

‘Cry Pretty’ is a sweep­ing power bal­lad that at times is more rem­i­nis­cent of Guns N’ Roses’ “Novem­ber Rain” than much of her pre­vi­ous work. In the post, she writes of work­ing with writer/pro­ducer David Gar­cia — who’s worked both with Chris­tian coun­try artists as well as Florida Ge­or­gia Line — and said he’s co­pro­duc­ing her forth­com­ing al­bum with her.

As “Cry Pretty,” “I wrote it with three in­cred­i­ble women: Hil­lary Lind­sey, Liz Rose, and Lori McKenna, who also write under the name Love Junkies,” she wrote. “I joined one of their writ­ing ses­sions last year to see if we could come up with some magic...and we did! The ti­tle refers to when emo­tions take over and you just can’t hold them back. It re­ally speaks to a lot of things that have hap­pened in the past year and I hope when you hear it, you can re­late those feel­ings to those times in your life. It’s emo­tional. It’s real. And it ROCKS!”

A list of win­ners at the 53rd an­nual Academy of Coun­try Mu­sic Awards, held Sun­day at the MGM Grand Gar­den Arena in Las Ve­gas. En­ter­tainer of the year: Ja­son Aldean Al­bum of the year: Chris Sta­ple­ton, “From A Room: Vol­ume 1”

Sin­gle record of the year: A Back Road” Song of the year: “Tin Man,” Mi­randa Lam­bert Male vo­cal­ist of the year: Chris Sta­ple­ton Fe­male vo­cal­ist of the year: Mi­randa Lam­bert Vo­cal Duo: Brothers Os­borne Vo­cal group of the year: Old Do­min­ion Vo­cal event of the year: Keith Ur­ban and Car­rie Un­der­wood, “The Fighter” New fe­male vo­cal­ist of the year: Lau­ren Alaina New male vo­cal­ist of the year: Brett Young New vo­cal duo or group of the year: Mid­land (Agen­cies)

Sam Hunt, “Body Like

See Also Page 16

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