By Robyn Collins The 51st ACM Awards, co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley had some pretty stellar moments from beginning to end. From the teaser videos that came before the show, to the announcements as lists of performers and duets were revealed, leading up to the start of the show, this was gonna be a great show for artists and fans of country music. Some of our favorite moments were:The FUNNIEST MOMENT was… when the 51st Annual ACM Awards kicked off with longtime co-hosts Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton… wait, what? We thought Dierks was gonna be co-hosting, but someone forgot to tell Blake. He filled in Dierks’ spot, stealing his mic and joining Bryan onstage for “Hunting, Fishin and Lovin’ Every Day”. Then, Blake gave Luke’s hand in co-hosting to Dierks Bentley. The JAZZIEST MOMENT was…when Little Big Town brought in Trombone Shorty for their performance of “Stay All Night.” Vocal Group of the Year winner Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild dedicated the award to their families, noting that that’s where they learned to sing harmonies. Kimberly Schlapman thanked another country artist: “Chris Stapleton, thank you for not being a group.” Little Big Town also won Vocal Event of the Year for “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” with Miranda Lambert.
The CHRIS STAPLETON-ist MOMENT was… during the opening duo-logue by Bryan and Bentley when both of them tried to take credit for Stapleton’s success, and were joined by audience members Jason Aldean, Charles Kelley, Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood, all of whom tried to take credit as well. And then the whole crowd stood to be part of the success. Chris Stapleton proceeded to sweep the awards for which he was nominated. For the first award of the night, Stapleton won Song of the year with “Nobody to Blame.” “I thought we were gonna get ‘Girl Crushed’ on this one” he joked with co-writers Barry Bales and Ronnie Bowman.The SPARKLIEST MOMENT was…when a giddy Kacey Musgraves introduced Katy Perry, who presented the Tex Ritter award to Dolly Parton for her “Coat of Many Colors” movie. Dolly said, “I don’t think I’m all that, but I ‘preciate the standing ovation… I knew Tex Ritter and that makes this award even more special to me.” The two proceeded to sparkle and shine their way through a Dolly medley that included “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene” and “9 to 5.”
The TEARING UP-EST MOMENT was…when Eric Church made his way valiantly through “Record Year” and stepped back to spin (on actual turntables) a medley of songs by his fallen rock heroes David Bowie, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, Motorhead‘s Lemmy, and The Eagles‘ Glenn Frey.
The ROCK OUT MOMENT of the NIGHT was…when 25 time ACM award winner(!) Miranda Lambert slayed “Tush” with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, who came strong with a sequin covered jacket, and Keith Urban shredding the electric guitar.The ALMOST HOLIEST MOMENT of the Night was…when Thomas Rhett won his first ACM, for Single Record of the Year, with his song “Die a Happy Man.” He thanked a few people, including his beloved wife. Then he added, “Holy crap, God… that’s a bad sentence!” Good recovery! The HUMBLE AND KINDest moment of the night was…when Tim McGraw sat in the center of the arena singing the heartfelt “Humble and Kind”, written by Lori McKenna, and was accompanied by a children’s choir, then surrounded by a diverse group of extra singers to finish the song. . The Not-A-Dry-Eye-In-the-House Moment of the night was…When Martina McBride and Darius Rucker remembered the amazing talent and heart of Joey Fleek. The crowd responded with a standing ovation. The Moment of Truth was… if, for some reason, you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know why everyone has been making such a big deal over Chris Stapleton, his performance of “Fire Away” should explain it.