How can it be that the Academy of Country Music Awards (“ACM Awards“) are once again upon us? The 51st Annual ACM Awards will take place this Sunday night in Las Vegas (broadcasting live on CBS at 8pm ET/delayed PT), and, this year, the Academy of Country Music has given us quite the performance lineup to look forward to. Award recipients, icons, pop stars, and chart-toppers, those are just a few of the categories into which the stars who will grace the ACM stage fall.
The past ACM Awards shows have treated us to star-studded bills, but few can come close to what is in store for us this weekend. However, there were many standout performances throughout the years that we would classify as “unforgettable” for some reason, whether it was an icon breaking a record, legends sharing the stage, a phenomenon drawing a standing O, or a breakout superstar meeting the inspiration for her debut single, the ACMs never disappoint.
Here are some of our favorite past performances in recent ACM Awards history, starring some of our favorite artists who still bring us great music and lives shows today.
Alan Jackson & George Strait – “Murder On Music Row” (2000)
For the first time, two legends shared the stage and sang about a place that we all know quite well — Music Row. At the 35th Annual ACM Awards, the Class of 1989’s Top Male Vocalist and three-time ACM Entertainer of the Year joined forces for a duet about murder on the row, making the first ACMs of the new millennium one to truly celebrate.
Blake Shelton, Pistol Annies, and Friends – “Boys ‘Round Here” (2013)
Just when we thought that Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here” couldn’t get any better, he pulled out the cameos during his 2011 performance of the Peach Pickers’ penned tune. At the 2013 Awards, the show’s host didn’t just rely on album cut background vocalists Pistol Annies; he had label mate Sheryl Crow, co-host Luke Bryan, and guitar extraordinaire Brad Paisley lend their support. The result was a roof-raising riot that nobody could forget.
Carrie Underwood & Steven Tyler – “Undo It” & “Walk This Way” (2011)
Before Steven Tyler made the crossover to country music official, he joined forces with Oklahoma sweetheart, Carrie Underwood, for a country rockin’ good time at the 2011 ACM Awards. Blending their music together to create one mega-performance, the two former American Idol stars formed a new duo: The Icon and the Idol.
Faith Hill & Tim McGraw – “Let’s Make Love” (2000)
Country couples don’t get more beautiful than Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and even today, sixteen years after they debuted their duet, “Let’s Make Love,” the McGraws can stop hearts with a simple appearance. In 2000, the married pair shared their Parisian music video and sexy ballad with the ACM Awards crowd, making us all deeply believe that the couple that sings together, stays together.
Garth Brooks – “To Make You Feel My Love” (1999)
Just Garth Brooks and a guitar. Does anybody need more than that? In 1999, Brooks took the ACMs stage to perform his song from the Hope Floats soundtrack and made sure that the entire audience felt his love for the words he was singing. Following the solo effort, Brooks received a standing ovation from his peers and fans, recognizing that the man with the high-energy live show is also fully capable of stripping it down and just delivering a gorgeous ballad.
Jo Dee Messina – “Stand Beside Me” (1998)
In 1998, Jo Dee Messina won the Top New Female Vocalist Award at the ACMs. The same night, the fiery female powerhouse took the stage to celebrate another history-making moment in her career … and in the industry. Singing “Stand Beside Me” off her double-platinum I’m Alright album, Messina was welcomed to the stage as the first female in history to achieve three consecutive multi-week Number 1 hits. Of course, the woman who still has limitless energy on stage reminded the world why she holds the honor of being recognized as a top vocalist.
Reba McEntire – Medley (2015)
During the 50th Annual ACM Awards in Arlington, Texas last year, Reba McEntire was awarded a Milestone Award by the Academy. Introduced by daughter-in-law Kelly Clarkson with one of the most colorful presentations in show history, the Milestone Award recipient entertained the audience and at-home viewers with a medley of songs: “Is There Life Out There,” “The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia,” “Fancy,” and then current single “Going Out Like That.” At the close of the performance, country fans everywhere were well aware that McEntire refused to go out like that and more was to come from the queen of the genre.
Taylor Swift – “Tim McGraw” (2007)
Once upon a time, Taylor Swift was just like you and me. Okay, that’s not true. Swift was never anything like us. In 2006, a starry-eyed teenager penned a song about hit-maker Tim McGraw and catapulted to super stardom. At the 2007 ACM Awards, Swift was invited to perform the debut breakout tune and came face-to-face with the man whose music inspired it. Right there on live national television, we saw Taylor Swift meet Tim McGraw, the man she would ultimately collaborate with on a double-platinum hit (“Highway Don’t Care”).
Joey + Rory – Red Carpet Interview (2013)
The world was glued to the collective life of Joey + Rory this year, as Joey Feek battled cancer and passed away peacefully in her Indiana home. This video is just a snippet of the kindheartedness the genre and world lost when Joey was laid to rest. Our continued prayers are with Rory, Indiana, and the entire Feek family.