Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and More Receive ACM 50th Anniversary Milestone Awards
Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, George Strait and Taylor Swift were all recipients of 50th Anniversary Milestone Awards at the 2015 ACM Awards. The trophies, specially designed by jeweler-to-the-stars David Yurman, were given out during the live broadcast.
Strait was the first to receive the trophy, after performing "All My Ex's Live in Texas" and "Let It Go."
"I just want to say thank you to the Academy of Country Music for having me back all these years," Strait said upon accepting the honor. "And most important, the fans, for keeping me back here all these years. It's been so great ... And thank all you guys for coming tonight."
Strait has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, with a record-breaking 60 No. 1 singles. He has 21 ACM Awards to his name, including two Entertainer of the Year trophies, as well as Artist of the Decade, the 40th Anniversary Milestone Award and the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award.
Lambert walked into the 2015 ACM Awards with the most nominations of any artist, with eight nods. Already the recipient of 18 ACM Awards and the most-awarded female in the history of the Academy, the trendsetter also made history as the first country artist to have all five of her albums debut at No. 1, with the release of Platinum last year.
"I have no idea why I'm up here receiving this with all of these other amazing artists, but I just want to say thank you so much for allowing me to live my dream," Lambert said upon accepting her award. "Thank you to my Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the gift of music. I love you so much. Thank you."
McEntire has sold more than 30 million albums in her illustrious career, which also includes film, Broadway and TV roles. To date, she has won 13 ACM Awards, including seven for Female Vocalist of the Year. She was also the recipient of the Career Achievement Award, the 40th Anniversary Milestone Award and the Home Depot Humanitarian Award, as well as one Entertainer of the Year trophy.
"Thanks to the Academy of Country Music Awards for this beautiful evening here in Texas," McEntire said, after taking the trophy from Kelly Clarkson. "To all you fans, I sure wouldn't be here without you, and I wouldn't even want to be. Thank you."
While Swift is no longer technically a country music star, after her switch to pop with the release of 1989 last year, few can deny her numerous achievements in the genre. With her multi-platinum-selling singles and jet-setting world tours, the singer has amassed eight ACM Awards, including the Jim Reeves International Award and the Crystal Milestone Award. She also won two Entertainer of the Year Awards, making her the youngest star to receive the honor, when she won the trophy in 2011 at age 21.
Swift was given her ACM 50th Anniversary Milestone Award by her mother, Andrea Swift, who is battling cancer.
“Somebody once told me that you truly see who a person is when you tell them something that they don’t want to hear,” Swift said. “You truly see who a person is when you give them news they weren’t expecting. And so, to the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and I wanted to explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace you accepted that with. I will never forget it. I’m so happy that I learned to write songs in a town like Nashville. I’m so unbelievably proud that I learned to treat people with kindness and respect from country music.”
Brooks has earned six ACM Awards for Entertainer of the Year, which is the most of any artist in the history of the ACMs.. He has sold more than 70 million albums in the United States alone and continues to break ticket sales records as he performs all over the country on his World Tour.
"I'd like to take this second to thank all of our men and women that are in the armed forces all over the world, protecting our freedom ... I think you're always a product of how you were raised. This has been a big emotional day for my home state of Oklahoma," Brooks said, referring to tragic Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred 20 years ago on April 19. "I want to send this back to them."
Chesney has sold more than 30 million albums all over the world, with more than 50 Top 40 singles. He had received 11 ACM Awards prior to tonight, including the Triple Crown, the Crystal Milestone Award and four Entertainer of the Year titles. The singer also holds the distinction of being the first fan-voted Entertainer of the Year.
"Thank you so much," Chesney said. "To be a part of all of this was just more than a kid from East Tennessee could dream of at one time ... To be up here tonight is beyond any dream I've ever had. But I do want to thank the fans out there that have let me and my family hold your lives in our hands so many years."
Brooks & Dunn have accumulated 27 ACM Awards, which is more than any other artist. Eight of their 10 studio albums have been certified platinum, with their 1991 debut, Brand New Man, selling more than six million copies. Brooks & Dunn won the ACM Award for Top Vocal Duo 16 times.
They returned to the stage to perform together for the first time since splitting up in 2010, before taking the trophy.
"I don't think there's any place I would rather receive this award other than my birth state of Texas," Ronnie Dunn said.
"We won our very first award here," Kix Brooks added. "God bless all you fans in country music for making us famous. Thank you so much."
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