For the first time in his career, Keith Urban took home Entertainer of the Year honors at the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards, held Sunday night in Las Vegas and broadcast live on CBS. The win, which comes just six months after he won the same award at the CMAs, gives Keith a clean sweep.
As always, Keith used his acceptance speech to acknowledge the unwavering support of his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, who seemed just as elated by the win as Keith. He also also gave a shout-out to the couple’s daughters, Sunday and Faith, and thanked his “amazing” fans, saying, “You have no idea how much you mean to me.”
Keith also broke Jason Aldean‘s three-year run as the ACM’s top entertainer, although Jason didn’t go home empty-handed. He was this year’s recipient of the ACM’s Artist of the Decade award. “Well, that the reason I wear the cowboy hat,” he said after being presented the award from the previous year’s recipient, George Strait.
Dan + Shay were also big winners, nabbing three awards, including top Duo, and Single and Song of the Year honors for “Tequila.” While collecting their Duo of the Year trophy, Shay Mooney called it “probably the greatest night of my life, besides the night I married my wife and had a baby.” Afterward, host Reba McEntire dubbed the evening “Dan + Shay’s excellent adventure.”
Thomas Rhett, who walked off with Male Vocalist honors for the second straight year, kicked off his acceptance speech by joking, “Gonna give this to Dan + Shay so they can go home with four.” He went on to thank his “smoking hot” wife, Lauren, who was sitting in the audience.
Kacey Musgraves was also a multiple award winner, taking home Female Vocalist of the Year honors as well as Album of the Year, for Golden Hour. While picking up her female artist award, Kacey had some words of encouragement for artists still struggling to get their music heard. “This award goes out to any woman or girl, or anybody really, that is maybe being told that her perspective or style is too different to work,” she said, adding, “Just stay at it, it’ll work out.”
The night included several ACM Flashbacks from Brooks & Dunn, George Strait and Miranda Lambert. Miranda’s set featured medley of her hits, including “Little Red Wagon,” during which took an apparent swipe at her ex-husband, Blake Shelton — who was sitting in the audience — by sneaking the line, “I got the hell out of Oklahoma” into the first verse.”
Other performances included Little Big Town, delivering a touching version of their new song, “Daughters.” Urban delivered a powerful version of “Burden,” his new song, written by Irish singer Foy Vance.
This Is Us star Chrissy Metz, joined by Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina, Mickey Guyton and Maddie & Tae, performed the uplifting anthem “I’m Standing with You,” the Diane Warren-penned song from to the upcoming film Breakthrough. Based on a true story, it stars Metz as Joyce Smith, whose son who drowned but came back to life after being pronounced dead.
Additional musical highlights included Aldean and Florida Georgia Line debuting their new song, “Can’t Hide Red,” and New Male vocalist winner Kane Brown, joining R&B singer Khalid for their recent collaboration, “Saturday Nights.”
As promised, Reba McEntire, hosting the show for a record 16th time, avoided politics in her opening monologue –but she did take a shot at the male-heavy nominees’ list. After welcoming everyone to the ceremony — or as she called it, “Reba Las Vegas” — she noted that it had recently snowed in Las Vegas. “It was so cold,” said Reba, “it froze us women out of Entertainer of the Year.”
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