Jason Aldean highlighted 10 years of game changing country hits with a special performance at the 54th ACM Awards. He delivered a rocked-up medley and was presented with the coveted ACM Dick Clark Artist of the Decade Award.
Aldean was introduced to the stage by the previous Artist of the Decade, George Strait, who noted that a lot has changed in country’s last 10 years – from new artists and new sounds to new ways of listening. But one thing has stayed that same, Strait said, and that’s “Aldean’s ability to connect with fans and light a fire with his music.”
True to form, the reigning three-time ACM Entertainer of the Year hit the stage at full throttle, jumping right into the hard-charging “Lights Come On” as a fist-in-the-air tribute to his life as a stage-rocking superstar. Dressed simple in black button down and a straw hat, he then made room for pop diva Kelly Clarkson, who revived the muscle-country romance of their “Don’t You Wanna Stay” duet, blending their vocals with ease. Finishing the medley off, Aldean slowed things down for the backwoods rap “Dirt Road Anthem” – the laid-back mix of small-town country and tough guy hip-hop that foreshadowed many of today’s genre-blurring hits.
After the energizing performance, Strait returned to the stage to hand off the golden trophy to Aldean – who was clearly choked up by the honor.
“That’s the reason I wear the cowboy hat,” Aldean said, gesturing toward the humble icon.
After mentioning that he sees a lot of artists in the crowd who’ve had a “hell of a decade” – like Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney – Aldean thanked his team and family for his success, and then had a special message for fans.
“Thank you to country fans and country radio,” he said. “You have changed my life forever … forever. This is one of the proudest nights of my life, I appreciate it.”
The 2019 ACM Awards, hosted by Reba McEntire, are airing live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas tonight on CBS.
We’re updating the winners all night long so keep up with the action right here!