Miranda Lambert, big performances shine at ACM Awards

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Country's Biggest Stars Shine Bright at ACM Awards

By VARIETY


The Academy of Country Music Awards went big to celebrate its 50th year, with the emphasis on exciting performances and, of course, the awards.

Two of country music's biggest superstars, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, served as hosts for the event at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, but it was Keith Urban and Eric Church who truly got the night started with their performances. The two teamed to perform Church's "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag" and Urban's "Raise 'Em Up."

It was then Florida Georgia Line's turn to heat up the stage, performing "Sippin' on Fire." They would go on to win the second award of the night - vocal duo of the year, the same award they won in 2013.

The first award of the night, however, went to Miranda Lambert, who's no stranger to the ACM Awards. She won song of the year for her hit "Automatic."

More performances followed, including Dierks Bentley belting his single "Riser" on an elevated stage, Martina McBride singing "Independence Day" and co-host Bryan serenading the audience with "I See You."

Shelton and Bryan revealed a big cause for celebrating, though: the show had broken a Guinness World Record, proving that everything is indeed bigger in Texas.

"This is our biggest show ever," said Bryan.

"And an audience so big, we just made the Guinness Book of World Records," Shelton added.

"That's right, tonight, we are the most attended live awards show of all time," Bryan said.

Lambert hit the stage once again to perform two of her biggest hits, "Mama's Broken Heart" and "Little Red Wagon." She would go on to win female vocalist of the year and album of the year for "Platinum."

Veteran country singer Reba McEntire received one of the 50th anniversary milestone awards, being honored as the most awarded ACM female vocalist of the year. Kelly Clarkson then introduced her to the stage to perform "Going Out Like That."

Inside the ACM Awards 2015:

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Inside the ACM Awards 2015
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Miranda Lambert, big performances shine at ACM Awards
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Co-hosts Luke Bryan (L) and Blake Shelton speak onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Miranda Lambert performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: (L-R) Recording artists Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook of music group Little Big Town accept the Vocal Group of the Year award onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin Winter/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singers Eric Church (L) and Keith Urban perform onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Taylor Swift (L) accepts the Milestone Award from Andrea Swift onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Taylor Swift (L) accepts the Milestone Award from Andrea Finlay onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Scott Kingsley Swift (L) and honoree Taylor Swift attend the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Andrea Swift speaks onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Host Luke Bryan (L) kisses recording artist Martina McBride's hand at the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Larry Busacca/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Actress Olivia Culpe (L) and singer Nick Jonas during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Brittney-Marie Cole (L) and singer Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Recording artist Tyler Hubbard of music group Florida Georgia Line attends the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Larry Busacca/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: (L-R) Musicians Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts, Christina Aguilera and Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts perform onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer Reba McEntire performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Mike Windle/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Recording artists Neil Perry, Kimberly Perry, and Reid Perry of The Band Perry present the award for Vocal Duo of the Year onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer Sam Hunt performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer Sam Hunt (center) performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Recording artist Martina McBride performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin Winter/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Miranda Lambert accepts the award for Song of the Year for 'Automatic' onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Miranda Lambert accepts the award for Song of the Year for 'Automatic' onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer Thomas Rhett performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
Taylor Swift, from second left, Cassidy Black, and Dierks Bentley appear in the audience at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Hosts Luke Bryan, left, Blake Shelton take a selfie at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Hosts Luke Bryan, left, and Blake Shelton speak at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singers Eric Church (L) and Keith Urban perform onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 18: Eric Church (L) and Keith Urban rehearse onstage for the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 18, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin Winter/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer Eric Church performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree George Strait performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
Milestone honoree George Strait performs at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree George Strait (ceneter) performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Cheerleader Brittany Kerr (L) and singer Jason Aldean attend the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Co-hosts Luke Bryan (L) and Blake Shelton speak onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
Milestone honoree George Strait performs at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Musicians Brian Kelley (L) and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line perform onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Professional football player Tony Romo speaks onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Professional football player Tony Romo speaks onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer/actor Nick Jonas attends the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: CEO of the Academy of Country Music Bob Romeo speaks onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Actresses Reese Witherspoon (L) and Sofia Vergara speak onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Television host Nancy O'Del attends the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Diamond/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: (L-R) Recording artists Reid Perry, Kimberly Perry and Neil Perry of music group The Band Perry present the Vocal Duo of the Year Award onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin Winter/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer Luke Bryan performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Ronnie Dunn (L) and actress Reese Witherspoon attend the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Larry Busacca/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singer-songwriter Keith Urban performs onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: (L-R) Scott Swift, honoree Taylor Swift, Cassidy Black and recording artist Dierks Bentley attend the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: (L-R) Musicians Neil Perry and Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry present Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line with the award for Vocal Duo of the Year onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Singers Keith Urban (L) and Brandy Clark during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
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New artist of the year winner Cole Swindell put on his signature baseball cap to perform "Chillin' It," while vocal group of the year winner Little Big Town performed a stripped down version of their hit "Girl Crush." Another new artist of the year nominee, Thomas Rett, performed "Make Me Wanna."

The audience really hyped up, however when one of country's biggest stars at the moment, Jason Aldean, took the stage for a four-song medley, starting with "Tonight Looks Good on Your" and going into a mix-up of "My Kinda Party," "Hicktown" and "She's Cuuntry."

Not to be outdone by his co-host Bryan, Shelton took the stage to perform his hit "Sangria" while wife Lambert danced in the audience. Christina Aguilera made her first appearance at the show to join Rascal Flatts in singing "Riot."

Garth Brooks, who also won a milestone award at the show, was armed with a red, white and blue guitar as he performed "All-American Kid." Soldiers walked down the aisles and stood on stage during the performance, earning a standing ovation from the audience.

In an emotional moment of the night, Taylor Swift's mother, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, presented the songstress with one of the milestone awards. Swift took the opportunity to thank the country community for their support after she announced her first official pop album, the chart-topping "1989."

"To the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and that I wanted to go explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace that you accepted that with," she said. "I will never forget it."

Kenny Chesney performed his hits "Young" and "Wild Child" before accepting his milestone award, presented by Church, who told him, "Thank you for loving music and loving life and for giving all of us up here a great life."

Vocal group of the year nominee Lady Antebellum perked up the audience with their set, performing "Long Stretch of Love," before the show took a turn for the pop. Nick Jonas appeared on stage to sing his hits "Jealous" and "Chains" with vocal duo of the year nominee Dan + Shay.

Alan Jackson brought it back to another emotional note, singing "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" on the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. He also performed the song at the 2001 awards, after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The winner of the biggest honor of the night, though, ended up being co-host Bryan, who won entertainer of the year.

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