ACM Awards: Looking Back at 10 Top Moments

Since the inaugural Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony was held in 1966, the show has featured a slate of awe-inspiring performances and pivotal artist career moments. This year, Reba McEntire will host the awards for a 17th time, when it streams live on Amazon Prime Video on Thursday night (May 16).

Each year, artists vie for the recognition of their creative peers in this industry-voted awards show, hoping they are called to the winners circle — a moment that acknowledges and honors their creativity and years of hard work put in on the road, in the studio and often in the writing room. Of course, as much as the awards themselves commemorate the artists’ best songs and albums over the past year, the awards show stage itself is also a prime opportunity to look toward the future, as many artists use their performance time in front of the viewing audience to debut new music. Other times, they are paying homage to those who have come before them, as the ACMs have often been a moment to honor legendary country performers.

The Academy of Country Music was founded in Southern California in 1964 as a regional trade organization. Since then, the organization has heralded and advocated for the growth of country music, both domestically and abroad. The ACM is now headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee and has a membership of over 5,000 globally. The organization also has the philanthropic arm ACM Lifting Lives, which aids those in need, and focuses on health initiatives. Additionally, the ACM advocates for underrepresented groups in country music, with programs including ACM LEVel Up, a professional development and enrichment curriculum for rising leaders, and OnRamp, a guaranteed income program for Black members of the Nashville music community, in partnership with the Black Music Action Coalition.

Here, we look back at a few of the top moments from the Academy of Country Music Awards over the years.

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