The ACM Awards ceremony was held in Texas for the first time ever, and it was definitely a weekend to remember.
Heavy rain, thunder and lightning on Friday delayed the 3rd Annual ACM Party For a Cause Festival at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Fans and performers, including Reba McEntire, Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan had to wait out the storm. Saturday was a repeat performance. Severe weather forced attendees to evacuate the stadium after hearing just one performance.
The 50th ACM Awards were held at AT&T Stadium, an 80,000-seat football stadium in Arlington, Texas. The event set a Guinness World record for the most-attended live awards show of all time.
Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan returned as hosts for a third year and revealed this feat to the audience. “They say everything is bigger in Texas. And that’s why we’re here,” Shelton said.
The show kicked off with a tribute to country music legend Merle Haggard by Keith Urban and Eric Church.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the awards show, the Academy of Country Music honored seven artists with Milestone Awards for their career achievements.
The first award went to George Strait, who received an award for ACM Winner Over Four Decades. He then performed his new single “Let It Go” and his classic hit, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.”
Miranda Lambert was the sole female nominated for entertainer of the year. She lost the prize but took home Female Vocalist of the Year; Album of the Year for “Platinum”; and Single of the Year for “Automatic.”
“I don’t even realize what’s happening tonight,” Lambert said. “I love my job so much. I will never not love my job.”
Lambert also received a Milestone Award, which was presented to her by Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. Lambert wrote a song for their new film, “Hot Pursuit.”
Another highlight of the show featured country music veteran Garth Brooks and a touching tribute to our men and women in the military. Chris Kyle’s widow, Taya Renae Kyle, introduced Brooks, and he performed “All American Kids.” As he played, he was joined on stage by dozens of active duty military service members. Brooks and pretty much the entire audience, including his wife, Trisha Yearwood, were teary eyed by the end of the song.
“I like to thank all our men and women in the Armed Forces who are here…for protecting our freedom,” he said. Brooks received a Milestone Award for Most Awarded ACM Entertainer of the Year.
The eternally-tanned Kenny Chesney performed his hits, “Young” and “Wild Child” to an enthusiastic and adoring audience. He then received a Milestone award for being the First Fan-Voted ACM Entertainer of the Year, which he received in 2008.
Later in the broadcast, Alan Jackson sang “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning),” a tribute to the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Brad Paisley got the audience members to their feet with his prime-time television debut of “Crushin’ It.”
Other performers included Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell.
The evening wrapped up with Luke Bryan winning the top honor of Entertainer of the year and a performance of “Let the Good Times Roll,” by Jake Owen and Darius Rucker.
2015 ACM Award winners:
Entertainer of the Year: Luke Bryan
Single of the Year: Lee Brice, “I Don’t Dance”
Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Album of the Year: Miranda Lambert, “Platinum”
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line
Song of the Year: Miranda Lambert, “Automatic”
Video of the Year: Dierks Bentley, “Drunk on a Plane”
New Artist of the Year: Cole Swindell
Vocal Event of the Year: Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, “This is How We Roll”
Milestone Awards: George Strait, Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn and Kenny Chesney
All photos via Instagram/ACM Awards