And the winner is … somewhere else.
The euphoria at winning an ACM award was somewhat tempered Sunday night (April 14) by the fact that two of the big winners — Chris Stapleton for album and male vocalist of the year — and Sam Hunt — for single record — were absent.
Stapleton had a good excuse, however. At just about the same time his first award was announced, his wife, Morgane, gave birth to twins. “We just found out that the little rascals came a bit early,” host Reba McEntire told the cheering crowd. Stapleton was a double nominee in the album of the year category as the artist and co-producer of From A Room: Volume 1, making his win in that category count twice.
Hunt, whose “Body Like a Back Road” won single record of the year, presumably, was lost somewhere on a back road.
Surprises seldom spark eloquence, but Miranda Lambert managed to acquit herself well. “Thank you guys for sharing my heartbreak with me,” she told her co-writers, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall, when her “Tin Man” won the song of the year prize.
Lambert’s wins for female vocalist and song of the year for “Tin Man” made ACM history. She is the most-awarded artist in the organization’s history with 30 victories, breaking her tie with Brooks & Dunn. Accepting her female vocalist of the year trophy, Lambert said, “I love country music. I dedicate everything I have to it.”
Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, who won for vocal event of the year, were mildly upstaged by craggy-voiced presenter Sam Elliott when he and his The Ranch co-star, Ashton Kutcher, announced the nominees. Any time Elliott speaks, Kutcher cracked, “is vocal event of the year.” Urban and Underwood’s emotional acceptance speeches together was among the emotional highlights of the night.
What the members of Old Dominion lacked in eloquence in winning the vocal group of the year, they made up in the excitement they showed running to the stage upon learning they’d beat out such heavy-hitters as Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum.
Fortunately, Jason Aldean was on hand to say something when he was crowned entertainer of the year for a third consecutive year. After thanking a throng of industry supporters, he dedicated his win to his wife and “my three good luck charms at home.”
Alluding to 2017’s massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival that occurred while he was onstage, he continued, “It’s been a rough year, and I want to thank those who reached out to us and showed us love.”
Most of the awards were announced and/or presented before the show was broadcast.