The Academy of Country Music knows how to put on a wonderful awards show experience. Country music brings people together and this year’s show and accompanying festivities completely proved that. I was lucky enough to be there in person, and for me, these are 7 Things That Made The 51st ACMs The Best One Yet.
The venue was fantastic. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas was beautifully laid out with obviously a lot of work and attention to detail applied to make this night extra special. With talent like Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood on hand, the night was sure to be unforgettable.
Party for a Cause
The ACM Award Weekend started off with Party for a Cause. Carrie Underwood performed Friday night. She brought all the stops out including ladies like Kelsea Ballerini, Cam, Martina McBride, and more. Saturday was led by our ACM co-host Dierks Bentley featuring artists like Lee Brice, and Chris Stapleton to name a few. Finally, kicking off the ACM Award day was none other than Kenny Chesney who teamed up with artists including Brett Eldredge, Sam Hunt, and Kip Moore.
The Red Carpet
Show day started early as artists prepared for the big day. The Red Carpet was eventful as Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman took the time to talk to all of the fans waiting behind the fence. No one wanted them to leave and they were so loved. Kidman was particularly impressive as she made a point to talk to everyone and continually walked back and forth to meet as many people as she could, not to mention that she was doing all this walking and meeting in heels that I would never be able to walk in. I think all the red carpet fans would agree that Urban and Kidman were quite impressive with their poise and friendliness on the red carpet. Next, Tim McGraw walked the red carpet with a suit and his signature black cowboy hat. His wife, Faith Hill wore a white suit that fit her style. McGraw took some selfies and laughed endlessly with the crowd. He was the ladies favorite! Even after he had walked you could still hear women of all ages asking for him to come back. Miranda Lambert, who won Female Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year with Little Big Town, stunned everyone as she walked out in a sunflower yellow dress with pink heels. Leave it to Lambert to make a fashion statement and have a little pink holster on her heels! She rocked the outfit and the heels. Just like she always does.
Blake Shelton performed his new single “Came Here to Forget,” which showed an emotional side to Shelton. It captured our hearts and our attention. In this moment, he and the ocean waves in the background enchanted the audience. It took us back to a time when getting over someone was the hardest thing we’d ever faced. Performances such as this is what makes Shelton my favorite performer.
Cam sang the song that changed her life “Burning House,” which gets better every time I hear it. Cam is a breath of fresh air in country music. She reminds me of Carrie Underwood and Maren Morris combined. She’s a triple threat in country music and this performance just proved it.
As the talent onslaught continued, Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney next performed. They’re the beach boys that everyone loves. Bentley sang “Somewhere On a Beach” and Chesney sang “Noise.” Their songs had the crowd on their feet and singing along.
Thomas Rhett sang his single record of the year “Die a Happy Man.” His wife sat close to the stage beaming at her husband while he gushed over her. Their connection was obvious and too hard to ignore. It was like they were the only ones in the room.
Kelsea Ballerini did a mash up of “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Peter Pan.” Ballerini defined girl power! Nick Jonas came in halfway through with the guitar- as if the ladies weren’t already won over by this performance. Their chemistry was undeniable and we can only hope they collaborate in the future. She has blown up the scene of country music and “Peter Pan” has showed us that she is not a “one hit wonder.”
Another duet that highlighted the ACM’s were Chris Young and Cassadee Pope. They rocked the stage with their new duet “Think of You.” Their voices synced together perfectly. There was a lot of chemistry up on that stage. I can’t wait to see what’s next for them.
Eric Church sang a song that highlights his artistic ability. “Record Year” is different than other country songs out there now, but Church found something here. This song is going to be a hit. His performance was right in front of that chalkboard as he paid tribute to The Eagles, Lemmy Kilmister (of Motorhead), and David Bowie. Church outdid himself yet again and he took home Video of the Year for “Mr. Misunderstood.”
Cole Swindell sang an emotional tribute to his dad with his No. 1 song “You Should Be Here.” As his guitarist played, Swindell dug deep with each note he sang. The song takes a toll on everyone and it reminds us that life is fragile. We cherish these moments in music and savor the emotion it brings out.
Dolly and Katy
This awards show was something I will never forget and one performance particularly stood out as Country Legend Dolly Parton and Pop Princess Katy Perry came together to honor Parton’s hits and her movie “Coat of Many Colors.” This duet featured “9 to 5” with clocks going everywhere in the background. Parton and Perry had semi-matching outfits with many colors, which matched the theme perfectly.
Chris Stapleton’s Trifecta
The guy of the night Chris Stapleton sang “Fire Away” alongside his wife Morgane Stapleton. He has taken the country world by storm and showed the crowd that there was a reason for that. His album Traveller won Album of the Year and he also collected Song of the Year honors for “Nobody to Blame.” Completing the trifecta, Stapleton also won New Male Vocalist of the Year. It’s amazing to see how him finally receiving the recognition he deserves.
Everything about this show was different and fresh. The sets were unbelievable especially during Carrie Underwood’s performance of her newest single “Church Bells” with iron gates, fences, and steps everywhere” Underwood owned the stage in her gladiator heels as she took a break from singing to hit the drums behind her. Who knew she could drum? Wow! People were out of their seats cheering her on and she put on the performance of the night. She completely set the tone for not just this award show but for every award show hereafter. Underwood is the ultimate role model.