ACM Awards Bring The Party To Texas [Show Recap]
The 58th Academy of Country Music Awards took over Frisco, Texas Thursday night (May 11).
Lainey Wilson and Hardy tied for the most wins, taking home four awards each. Lainey won Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year, as well as Music Event and Visual Media of the Year for her collaboration with Hardy, “Wait In The Truck.” In addition to his shared wins with Lainey, and his second trophy earned in the Music Event category as a producer of the song, Hardy took home Artist-Songwriter of the Year prior to the ACM Awards livestream.
Chris Stapleton won the night’s top honor, ACM Entertainer of the Year, for the very first time.
Keith Urban kicked off the ACM Awards livestream on Prime Video with his groovy “Texas Time” before introducing one of the night’s co-hosts Garth Brooks.
When the roar of applause died down, Garth welcomed everyone to the 58th ACM Awards. He was stoic in his opening remarks about the legacy of country music and went through a list of country music GOATS (“Greatest. Of. All Time.”), naming Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Randy Travis and George Strait.
“When you break down what makes up the GOAT, it’s about picking, singing, musicianship, awards and all that stuff,” he said. “When you add the last category—time, length of career—that makes the king of country music a female.
“Give it up for the GOAT: Dolly Parton,” Garth exclaimed. Parton appeared on-stage with a live goat in a wagon. “Did I hear you say you were looking for a goat?” she quipped.
“This is Garth’s very first time hosting an award show,” Dolly said. “You never forget your first time.” She then made a joke about a threesome, exemplifying that all bets are off on the first and only fully livestreamed award show.
Cole Swindell and Jo Dee Messina were next to take the stage with their sonic boom of a hit, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina.” Just as Cole sat back down, he was called to the podium as the night’s first winner, taking home Song of the Year for the smash.
“I moved to Nashville, Tennessee because I wanted to be a songwriter. That’s what this award is,” he said. Cole thanked Messina and his team, and recognized Sony Music Publishing’s Rusty Gaston and Anna Weisband for their contributions to the massive hit. “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” co-writers Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley and Tim Nichols thanked their families and teams, as well as co-writer Thomas Rhett, who was not in attendance.
Next up, Kane Brown performed his hard-hitting new single, “Bury Me In Georgia” before reigning Female Artist of the Year Carly Pearce took the stage to honor Trisha Yearwood‘s 25th anniversary of winning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year. Yearwood joined her for an awesome medley of “Wrong Side Of Memphis,” “XXX’s and OOO’s” and “She’s In Love With The Boy.”
Dustin Lynch and MacKenzie Porter presented Duo of the Year to Brothers Osborne for the night’s next award presentation.
TJ Osborne kept it short and sweet because, as he said, he was hot, nervous and sucking his belly in. John Osborne concurred, adding a special thank you to his wife Lucie Silvas, who just gave birth to twins a month ago.
“I love the country music community. We’re the luckiest people in the world,” John said.
Next up it was time to hear from the night’s top honoree, Hardy, who started the night as a two-time winner, having won Artist-Songwriter of the Year and Visual Media for his “Wait In The Truck” duet with Wilson.
Hardy brought his country-rock sound to the ACM Awards stage, performing his hard-hitting “Truck Bed,” complete with the screamo verse that thrilled the artists and industry members in the audience.
Chris Young and Mitchell Tenpenny then presented Old Dominion with Group of the Year honor.
“There’s people in this room like Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and Randy Travis. Somehow we are included in this party,” Old Dominion’s Matt Ramsey said “We’re so proud to be in a room full of country music fans and make music for those people, but we’re most proud to be able to make music for people that are hurting right now.”
Bailey Zimmerman made his debut ACM performance with “Rock and A Hard Place.” He grinned and pumped his fist in the air as the crowd sang back. “Way to make your breakthrough moment count, young man,” Dolly said when her and Garth re-appeared.
Willie Nelson FaceTimed in for a moment to celebrate his 90th birthday. Cody Johnson did a stellar job with Willie and Waylon’s “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys.” Another Texas native, reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Miranda Lambert, performed a stunning rendition of her gorgeous “Carousel,” an enchanting tune about carnival performers from her Palomino album.
Next up, Tanya Tucker presented Single of the Year to Cole Swindell for “She Had Me At Heads Carolina.”
“I don’t know what’s going on, y’all. Thank you country music fans—that’s all I’ve ever been,” Cole said. He thanked Warner Music Nashville, Sony Music Publishing, Kerri Edwards and KP Entertainment.
The ACM New Female Artist of the Year, Hailey Whitters, charmed the room with “Everything She Ain’t.” Donning a pink, frilly dress, Whitters had the audience tickled to clap along to the beat.
Music Event of the Year was the next award presentation. It went to Hardy and Lainey for “Wait In The Truck.” Hardy let everyone know that he forgot to spit his dip out, so to bare with him. He thanked Wilson and said, “thank you everyone for resonating with this song, especially something with this subject matter.”
Lainey agreed, “I think it’s really important to sing about things that are hard to talk about. This is a song about real life.”
Next up was a performance of “Love You Anyway” from Luke Combs. Combs introduced pop superstar Ed Sheeran, who sang a verse of his folky “Life Goes On,” before Combs joined him. The two sounded great together and embraced in a friendly hug before Garth appeared and asked the two about their friendship.
Carly Pearce and TJ Osborne introduced The War And Treaty, who blew the roof off the place with “Blank Page.” Garth and Dolly gave it high praise, rightfully so.
The hosts then recognized some of the country giants we lost this past year, including Loretta Lynn and Naomi Judd. Dolly broke out in a verse of “Precious Memories” to mark the moment.
Dolly then presented the Female Artist of the Year award to Lainey Wilson.
“I can’t believe I just met Dolly Parton,” an emotional Lainey said. She thanked Jesus, her family, her label, Red Light Management, Sony Music Publishing and WME. “For the little girls watching this, this right here stands for hard work. If you’re going to be a dreamer, you better be a doer.”
ACM’s Entertainer of the Decade Jason Aldean brought the party for a performance of his new song, “Tough Crowd” before Ashley McBryde enlisted Caylee Hammack, Pillbox Patti, Brandy Clark and John Osborne for a rousing performance of “Bonfire At Tina’s.”
Garth presented Male Artist of the Year to Morgan Wallen, who was not in attendance to accept due to a vocal injury.
Jelly Roll performed “Save Me.” Lainey joined him for a verse before bringing the heat on her performance of “Grease.” After an additional stunning performance, Lainey won yet another award for Album of the Year for her Bell Bottom Country.
Jordan Davis played a sweet acoustic version of “Next Thing You Know” before it was time to crown the night’s top honor, Entertainer of the Year. Trisha Yearwood re-appeared to present the honor to Chris Stapleton. It was his first time receiving the award and qualifies him for the ACM Triple Crown Award, celebrating artists who have won New Female/Male Artist of the Year, Female/Male Artist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
“I am in shock, truly. Thank you. By an imaginable metric, I don’t deserve this,” Stapleton said, thanking his band and crew, Red Light Management, UMG Nashville and his family.
Before the night was over, Dolly took the stage for the world premiere of the debut single from her new rock album, Rockstar, called “World on Fire.” It was the right way to end the night, capturing the audience in one final celebration and marking the end of the 58th ACM Awards.
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