The Day

Through the Lens

- By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer

The Academy of Country Music Awards kicked off with six separate performanc­es full of energy, including a tribute to Chuck Berry featuring Joe Walsh, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley.

The trio performed “Johnny B. Goode” at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as audience members got out of their seats Sunday to sing and dance along.

“For the man that influenced every form of music, including country,” said Bryan of Berry, who died last month.

Before that, the nominees for entertaine­r of the year — Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban and Florida Georgia Line — started the show with performanc­es of their recent hits.

Aldean won entertaine­r of the year last year.

Later in the show, airing live on CBS, Urban sang the soulful “Blue Ain’t Your Color” with a throwback, blackand-white vibe, while the back of the stage was smoky and bright blue. As he switched to the upbeat, disco-flavored “The Fighter” — where he was joined by Underwood — the camera focused on his actress-wife Nicole Kidman, who sang and danced along.

Miranda Lambert also had a top-notch performanc­e: She earned a standing ovation after she sang the slow, acoustic-sounding “Tin Man” as the crowd watched along seriously as she hit all the right notes and strummed her guitar.

The night featured comedy, including a play off the Academy Awards mishap during the best picture winner announceme­nt in February.

“This is odd. David?” asked “Entertainm­ent Tonight” host Nancy O’Dell while holding the card with the name of the song of the year winner.

“Emma Stone, ‘La La Land,’” David Copperfiel­d announced, as the audience laughed.

The real winner was Thomas Rhett for “Die a Happy Man.”

“Thank you to my beautiful wife, my beautiful pregnant wife,” said Rhett, whose wife was in the audience. “The song’s inspiratio­n was because of you.”

Bryan and Bentley, who are co-hosting the show for a second year, also had jokes: They laughed about doing Vegas activities leading up to the awards show, and even showed photos of them dressed as stripper-cowboys.

Bryan even joked days ahead that the ACM Awards would unite Democrats and Republican­s.

“Democrats and Republican­s are going to get along on Sunday night. They’re all going to watch the ACMs together and stuff’s going to start happening in this country. It’s going to change,” Bryan said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Cats and dogs are going to make out.”

“Coming to an election near you. Is politics your next career?” Bentley said. “Yes,” Bryan replied. Sam Hunt performed his No. 1 hit, “Body Like a Back Road,” and he went into the audience to sit next to his fiancé to sing the song. The show is expected to feature a number of other A-list performanc­es during the threehour show, including the Backstreet Boys with Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.

Earlier winners announced before Sunday’s show included two wins for Florida Georgia Line: single record of the year with “H.O.L.Y.” and vocal event of the year for “May We All” with McGraw.

Urban, who had success with his genre-bending, Grammy-nominated album “Ripcord,” is the top nominee with seven. He will compete for album of the year, song of the year with “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and male vocalist of the year.

In the latter category, he’s up against Aldean, Bentley, Stapleton and Rhett.

Nominees for female vocalist of the year are Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Lambert, Underwood and Maren Morris, who recently won a Grammy for her hit song, “My Church.”

 ??  ?? Miranda Lambert performs “Tin Man” on Sunday at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Go to for a gallery of the day’s best wire photos,
Miranda Lambert performs “Tin Man” on Sunday at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Go to for a gallery of the day’s best wire photos,

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