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Morgan Wallen wins at ACM Awards; Miranda Lambert takes top prize

Singer did not directly address scandal that erupted last year when he was caught on video using a racial slur.
Image: Morgan Wallen
Morgan Wallen accepts the award for album of the year for "Dangerous: The Double Album" at the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, on March 7, 2022.John Locher / AP
/ Source: Associated Press

Morgan Wallen won album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Monday night for “Dangerous: The Double Album,” a year after he was removed from the ACMs ballot after he was caught on camera using a racial slur.

Wallen made no direct reference to the issue and his absence from recent awards shows as accepted the trophy at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, but may have hinted at it.

“To my son, this award will signify that his daddy was a fighter,” Wallen said, finishing his speech by enthusiastically thanking the fans in attendance.

Miranda Lambert took home the night’s top prize, entertainer of the year, for the first time after losing out in five previous years, but was not in Las Vegas to accept it.

“I cannot believe I’m not there to celebrate,” Lambert said in a video message from London, “it’s the first time I’ve missed the ACMs in 17 years. I’ve been waiting a long time for this”

Carly Pearce won best female artists and Chris Stapleton won best male artist over Wallen, who took no other awards Monday night after being nominated for three.

“A disco ball just fell right on me,” Parton said. “I’m just hoping that nothing punctures me.”

Then came the first of several long blocks of performances — including one 35 minutes long — in a ceremony that seeks to emphasize the music and a concert-like atmosphere.

Parton’s co-hosts Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett celebrated the show’s return to its usual home city after two years in Nashville. They sang Elvis Presley’s classic “Viva Las Vegas” and Faith Hill’s “Let’s Go to Vegas.”

They were followed by medleys from Eric Church and Walker Hayes, who started his performance deep in the stadium stands, dressed as casually as the folks in the cheap seats as he sang his viral hit about a date at Applebee’s, “Fancy Like.”

Brothers Osborne broke a three-year winning streak by Dan + Shay to take best duo, the first trophy handed out during the show.

Luke Bryan sang his ballad “Up,” then performed his hit duet “Buy Dirt” with Jordan Davis and performance of his ballad “Up.” Other performers included Kane Brown, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, Blanco Brown, Brooke Eden, Ashley McBryde and BRELAND.

As the show drew to a close, Kelly Clarkson performed “I Will Always Love You,” first written and recorded by Parton, in tribute to the host.

“I love you Dolly Parton!” Clarkson screamed as Parton stepped out to present the entertainer of the year award.

After reading Lambert’s name, Parton said, “I have always loved her.” She also said she thought the late Whitney Houston, who brought the song renewed fame in the 1990s, would approve of Clarkson’s soaring rendition.

Brothers Osborne and Brittney Spencer closed the show with a performance of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”

Drawn by the ACM’s reputation for having a fun, inviting and inclusive atmosphere, Amazon sought to go beyond the live sporting events it has previously aired to connect that with a large audience of country fans who listen to Amazon Music.

The show attempted to have a sporting look, with three stages, overhead spider cameras, non-stop action and heavy on graphics.

It was touted as commercial-free, but there were breaks to promote Amazon’s original movies and television series.

In one moment of promotional synergy, author James Patterson introduced a performance by Parton and Kelsea Ballerini.

Patterson and Parton co-authored a novel, “Run, Rose, Run,” that debuted for sale on Amazon on Monday. Parton and Ballerini performed a duet from the companion album, available on Amazon Music, while Ballerini performs the role of the title character in the audiobook on Amazon’s Audible.com.