Entertainment

Lainey Wilson wins big at the 2024 Academy of Country Music Awards, including the top honor

It was Lainey Wilson 's night, in many ways. She took home female artist of the year and the top prize of entertainer of the year at the 2024 Academy of Country Music Awards.

“I’ve been in Nashville for 13 years doing this,” Wilson started her speech. “Everybody in this category has loved on me and believed on me,” she added. “And I love y’all for that.”

She joins an exclusive category of few women to earn the top prize: Miranda Lambert was named entertainer of the year in 2022. In 2020, Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett tied for the title, the first time ever for a tie and the first time a woman had won the category since Taylor Swift in 2012.

Wilson also opened the 59th annual ACMs with a cover of Little Texas' "God Blessed Texas," flawlessly jumping into her new single, "Hang Tight Honey." Afterward, Clay Walker and Randy Travis presented Jordan Davis with song of the year for his ubiquitous country radio hit "Next Thing You Know."

“First off, I want to thank the fans for loving this song,” he said in his acceptance speech. “I love songwriting because of songs that won song of the year, so to be holding this right now is crazy.”

Music event of the year also went to Wilson — and Jelly Roll, for his smash “Save Me.”

“No pun intended, but seriously, this song saved me,” Jelly Roll said in his speech. “I thought I would die and go to jail,” he said while getting emotional — and instead, he celebrated being an ACM award winner.

The ACMs, held at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, just north of Dallas, was hosted by Reba McEntire.

In one of the most anticipated performances of the show, Jason Aldean lit up the stage in a moving tribute to the late Toby Keith.

He gave the crowd a poignant, acoustic performance of Keith’s classic “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” as the audience sang along, and Keith’s family watched from the crowd.

Across his career, Keith took home 14 ACM Awards, twice winning the top prize of entertainer of the year. He died in February at age 62, following a diagnosis of stomach cancer.

Album and male artist of the year went to Chris Stapleton. “There’s so many great guys in that category and I’m happy just to be included in this company,” he said in his acceptance speech.

And when it came time to perform his new song "Think I'm in Love with You," he was joined by a very special guest: Dua Lipa.

It wasn’t the only surprise: Post Malone debuted a brand-new song, “Never Love You Again,” which bled into his huge new single with Morgan Wallen “I Had Some Help.” Wallen did not perform.

Instead, afterward, McEntire joined Post Malone to duet a little bit of the Allman Brothers Band's "Ramblin' Man" in tribute to Dickey Betts, who died last month. He was 80.

Earlier in the evening, Luke Combs — the most nominated artist of the night, with eight — took home single of the year for his cover of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car." Last year, Chapman's 1988 song won song of the year at the Country Music Awards for Combs' cover, making her the first Black songwriter to win in the category.

Dan and Shay and Old Dominion took home the prize for duo and group of the year, respectively.

Performances hit fast and furious: Jelly Roll launched into a rocking rendition of his new song “Liar,” followed closely by Kelsea Ballerini with Noah Kahan — doing her song “Mountain with a View” into his viral hit “Stick Season.”

Tigirlily Gold did “I Tried A Ring On,” Texas-born Cody Johnson brought his “Dirt Cheap,” and Miranda Lambert debuted her new single “Wranglers.”

Kane Brown did a moving cover of “Georgia On My Mind.” Thomas Rhett did “Beautiful As You” and everyone’s favorite couple Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani brought the lovely “Purple Irises” to the ACM stage.

Park McCollum did his hit “Burn It Down,” new male artist of the year winner Nate Smith and pop-punk powerhouse Avril Lavigne performed their new one, “Bulletproof,” and host McEntire closed out the show with her new single, “I Can’t.”

The ACM Awards were livestreamed on Prime Video and the Amazon Music channel on Twitch Live.

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For more coverage of this year's ACM Awards, visit https://apnews.com/hub/academy-of-country-music-awards

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