After being held in Los Angeles for years, the 38th Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony took place May 21 in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the first time.
Again this year, Alan Jackson was one of the night's big winners, taking home two ACMs; Album of the Year for Drive, and Video of the Year for the CD's title cut, Drive (For Daddy Gene). Last year, Jackson won three ACMs. He explained what his current album means to him.
"I thought I'd got all this last year, but I appreciate the Academy recognizing that this album was a very special album to me," Jackson said. " It had a lot of personal music on it."
Tying Jackson for most wins on the night was Rascal Flatts, receiving awards in the Song of the Year category for I'm Movin' On, as well as Top Vocal Group.
Kenny Chesney matched Rascal Flatts and Alan Jackson as double winners, claiming the Single of the Year ACM for The Good Stuff, later winning in the Top Male Vocalist category. When Chesney came to the podium to accept the latter award, he was so overcome with emotion that he could only utter a tearful "thank you."
Martina McBride was a repeat winner in the Top Female Vocalist category. In accepting her award, she told the audience why she is glad to be a part of country music.
"Thank you so much. This is too much!" she exclaimed. " This is more than I ever dreamed of. I want to use my time up here to just say that sitting out here and watching this show tonight, I am so proud of country music, and the songs we're making, and the performances we're giving tonight. And, I'm proud to be a part of country music. Thanks!"
Other recipients included Brooks and Dunn scoring their 10th win in the Top Vocal Duo category. Kellie Coffey, a one-time backup singer for pop diva Barbra Streisand, was named Top New Female Vocalist, with Joe Nichols receiving the Top New Male Vocalist ACM. The five-man band Emerson Drive captured Top New Vocal Group Honors.
The Academy of Country Music presented George Strait with the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award in honor of Strait's record-setting 50 Number One songs on the Billboard Country chart. Vocal group Alabama received the Pioneer Award for career achievement. The Humanitarian Award, determined by fans through Internet voting, went to Lonestar.
Singer Reba McEntire, a seven-time winner of the Top Female Vocalist ACM, made her sixth appearance as the ceremony's host. She paid tribute to country legend June Carter Cash, who did recently of complications following heart surgery.
"From the age of 10, when she played autoharp with the legendary Carter Family to the superstar duo she formed with her husband, Johnny Cash, she was one of country's most enduring stars. As a singer, a songwriter, and, most of all, as a friend, she will be truly missed," McEntire said.
The three-hour ceremony was telecast worldwide including a special broadcast to U.S. troops currently stationed overseas.
The evening ended on a pair of strange notes. While Vince Gill was reading the list of nominees for Entertainer of the Year, the audience booed mention of The Dixie Chicks in apparent response to disparaging remarks made about President Bush earlier this year by the trio's Natalie Maines. And, when Toby Keith was announced as the winner, no one came forward to claim the award. Gill and McEntire accepted the trophy in Keith's behalf, noting that he had left early.