Top 10 2015 ACM Awards Moments
At every awards show, there are moments that make you laugh, cry, dance and gasp in surprise -- and this year's ACM Awards had all of that and more. From Randy Travis' unexpected appearance to Reba McEntire's feisty medley, Sunday night (April 19) was an evening to remember.
Re-live the ACMs' 50th anniversary celebration with The Boot's list of the Top 10 2015 ACM Awards moments.
Seventy-eight-year-old Merle Haggard was honored with a performance from country favorites Eric Church and Keith Urban during the ceremony broadcast. The two teamed up to open the awards show with a medley of Church’s "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag" and their own duet, “Raise ‘Em Up.” Church's song name checks Haggard, making it the perfect tune to pay tribute to him. Plus, any time you get Church and Urban together, it's a match made in country music heaven.
An unlikely pairing of country trio Rascal Flatts and platinum-haired pop star Christina Aguilera turned into a top-notch performance. The quartet sang part of Aguilera's "Shotgun" and the Flatts' single "Riot," and even though Rascal Flatts' lead singer Gary LeVox and Aguilera both have standout voices, their vocals blended together effortlessly. After getting caught lip syncing their performance at last year's ACMs, the Flatts had a chance at redemption -- and they nailed it.
Released in April 1994 as the third single from her album The Way That I Am, Martina McBride's "Independence Day" has been a staple in the country singer's portfolio since its debut. After all, it's a powerhouse vocalist singing about the serious and extremely important topic of domestic abuse, calling women in abusive relationships to find freedom and their own personal Independence Day. It was a 2015 ACM Awards throwback to the '90s -- and one of our favorite moments.
When Reba McEntire hopped onstage at the 2015 ACM Awards, she proved that even though she's 60 years old, she's still one of the top entertainers in country music. She sang some of her biggest hits, including “Is There Life Out There,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” and “Fancy." At the end, she launched into her newest single, "Going Out Like That," which showed off her sassy and irresistible personality.
The 2015 ACM Awards will likely be the last country music event that Taylor Swift will attend (unless she comes back to the genre!), and she was presented a special 50th Anniversary Milestone Award by one of the greatest people in her life: her mom, Andrea. Fans reacted in great sadness as Swift recently announced that her mom has cancer, but the ACM moment was nothing but celebratory and tear-jerking. Andrea spoke rivetingly of watching her daughter grow up from a "tangle-haired little girl" to a global superstar preparing for her next massive world tour. She shared the memory that spurred Swift to write "Love Story," recalled when her daughter had few friends and admitted that she was, indeed, a very proud mom.
When football great Troy Aikman introduced Alan Jackson and his song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” he dedicated the performance to the Oklahoma City bombing victims, and thus began a highly emotional performance. Images of the bombings -- which occurred 20 years ago on April 19, the day of the 2015 ACM Awards -- flashed on the screen behind Jackson as he sang the song, originally penned in honor of 9/11 victims.
Garth Brooks brought "All-American Kid," from his Man Against Machine album, to Arlington, Texas, and it was full of significance. Brooks played the song in memory of those who lost their lives during the Oklahoma City bombing and dedicated it to all servicemen and -women; he also performed the song with a guitar specially given to him by Buck Owens. The Craig Campbell-penned tune is the first song by Campbell that any artist besides himself himself has recorded. Plus, the 2015 ACM Awards were Brooks' first awards show performance since his return to country music, and all of those factors combined into one really big ACM moment.
George Strait brought his first single of 2015, "Let It Go," to the 2015 ACM Awards stage -- but first, he chose to perform an oldie but a goodie, his 1987 hit, "All My Ex's Live in Texas." Then, he launched into the laid-back yet poignant "Let It Go," which reminds listeners what's really important in life. The crowd's reaction? A standing ovation for the King of Country.
The 2015 ACM Awards were the perfect place for Brooks & Dunn to reunite for their first performance since they broke up in 2010. Their very last stint together was their Farewell Tour, so it was incredibly exciting to see the two singers come together once again. After Keith Urban introduced them, the duo performed “My Maria,” from their 1996 Borderline album ... and seemed as in sync as ever.
“That classic tune won Song of the Year in 1985. The man who sang it has had an amazing comeback to be with us tonight,” Brice said. “Ladies and gentleman, the great Randy Travis.”
Then, much to the delight of the crowd and viewers at home, Travis stood. He is still unable to speak due to the stroke he suffered in 2013, but the country legend waved and smiled as he took in the rousing applause and cheers.
“Randy well knows Song of the Year,” Brice added. “Randy got to share that honor three separate times."
Travis' surprise appearance was, undoubtedly, the biggest and most emotional moment of the night.