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ACM Awards 2018: Carrie Underwood Returns, Miranda Lambert Wins Big
The country music community gathered in Las Vegas on April 15 for the 53rd American Country Music Awards, returning to the city for the first time since the Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting last October. The show opened with a spoken tribute to the victims of the tragedy, and followed with big moments for some of the genre's biggest stars including Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Stapleton.
"For those of us that have experienced tragedy and unexpected loss, music helps us remember what really matters in life," singer Luke Bryan said during the heartfelt introduction. Aldean, Lambert, Maren Morris, and Thomas Rhett joined Bryan on the darkened stage to deliver a somber message of unity through music in the wake of loss and grief.
The night's most anticipated musical moment was the return of Carrie Underwood. The GRAMMY-winning singer fell at her home last November, breaking her wrist and causing an injury to her face that required nearly 50 stitches. In her triumphant return, Underwood belted out her latest single, "Cry Pretty," proving she's back in a big way.
"It makes me proud to be a woman in this industry when I see her sing up there and do that," Lambert said of Underwood. "She's one of the greatest singers of all time in any genre of music and can sing me under the table. I say that every time and I will continue to say that, but I'm just proud of her and I know how strong she is and how hard she's worked."
Lambert enjoyed a successful night of her own at the ACMs, taking home Female Vocalist Of The Year honors for the staggering ninth consecutive year. The singer/songwriter also earned the award for Song Of The Year alongside fellow songwriters Jack Ingram and Jon Randall for "Tin Man" from her latest double album, The Weight Of These Wings. With these wins, Lambert became the winningest artist in ACM history with a whopping 32 total awards to her name.
In other categories of interest, Jason Aldean was named Entertainer Of The Year for the third year running, while Chris Stapleton won Male Vocalist Of The Year and Album Of The Year for his From A Room – Volume I.
The show was hosted by GRAMMY winner Reba McEntire, who led the evening's 25-year flashback theme by wearing the same red dress she wore at the 1993 CMA Awards. To commemorate the hits of the day, chart-toppers from 1993 were performed as duets by Alan Jackson and Jon Pardi, Blake Shelton and Toby Keith, and McEntire with Kelly Clarkson.
Underwood is set to appear again at country music's next big gathering when CMA Fest arrives in Nashville June 8.