ARLINGTON, TEXAS —
Taylor Swift may have left country for pop - but she had a memorable moment at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards.
The singer was one of seven recipients of the 50th Anniversary Milestone Award, and a video package highlighting her career and success played before her mother, who recently announced she is battling cancer, presented her daughter with the award.
"I am a very proud mom," said Andrea Swift, who also called her daughter "brave enough to explore her musical curiosity."
"You showed me who you are with the grace," Swift said of the country world when she announced she was releasing her first full-blown pop album, "1989," last year. "I am so happy I learned how to write songs in a town like Nashville."
The former country singer, who sat next to her father, Scott Swift, danced along in typical form at the ACM Awards, especially when Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride performed.
Lambert was on a red-hot winning streak - and she even rocked a red-hot bustier and disheveled hair when she performed "Little Red Wagon."
Lambert, the night's top nominee with eight, won album of the year for "Platinum," female vocalist of the year and twice for single record of the year for "Automatic" - as a performer and songwriter.
"I love all of those albums so much - I have them all," said Lambert, who beat out Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church and Little Big Town for the honor.
Lambert, a fashion favorite in the last year, wowed again in a flowing, plunging dress on the red carpet. Inside the venue, she wore white pants and a white top with a black sheer center. She also accepted the 50th Anniversary Milestone Award, given to her by Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara (Lambert wrote a song for their new film, "Hot Pursuit.")
Other recipients of the anniversary honor include Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney and George Strait, who performed near the beginning of the show.
Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line were behind Lambert with two wins for vocal duo of the year and vocal event of the year, shared with Luke Bryan for "This Is How We Roll." The duo sang the groove "Sippin' on Fire" surrounded by a ring of fire onstage. And Brooks' performance of "All American Kind" included U.S soldiers standing proudly.
"I'd like ... to thank all of our men and women in the armed forces ... protecting our freedom," Brooks said when he received the Milestone Award from Taya Kyle, the wife of the late "American Sniper" Chris Kyle.
The ACMs kicked off paying tribute to veteran Merle Haggard, while Strait sang "All My Ex's Live in Texas" - appropriate for the awards show celebrating its 50th anniversary in a new location, the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Hosts Blake Shelton and Bryan introduced Strait as the "king of country music." Keith Urban and Church both played guitar while Church sang "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag" in tribute to Haggard. Then - across at the second stage at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium - the country stars performed "Raise `Em Up" as the audience danced along, including McEntire.
"How about it Texasssssss! Dallas!" Bryan said standing next to Shelton. "They say everything is bigger in Texas and that's why we came here."
Shelton announced that the 2015 ACM Awards - usually held in Las Vegas - set a Guinness World Record for most attended live awards show of all-time.
'Forever and Ever, Amen'
Lee Brice sang some of "Forever and Ever, Amen" and then called out Randy Travis, who was sitting in the audience and earned a rousing applause. Christina Aguilera joined Rascal Flatts while Bentley, who had seven nominations and won video of the year for "Drunk on a Plane," sang "Riser."
Little Big Town had one of the night's top performances when they slowed things down with their recent hit, the semi-controversial "Girl Crush." They won vocal group of the year, and Cole Swindell won new artist of the year.
Shelton and Bryan were playful as hosts - and they even played some football. Shelton asked Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to throw the ball to Bryan, who was wearing gloves.
"This isn't one of those deflated balls?" Shelton said after Bryan caught the ball, referencing the deflategate scandal earlier this year.
Lambert is the sole female nominated for entertainer of the year. Co-host Bryan, Brooks, Aldean and Florida Georgia Line are also up for the fan-voted award. Lambert won the Grammy for best country album in February and she cleaned house at the Country Music Association Awards in November, winning four awards.