LAS VEGAS (AP) — "Over You" is the song that keeps on giving as Miranda Lambert won twice at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night for the deeply personal song she co-wrote with husband Blake Shelton.
Add in her fourth straight female vocalist of the year win and another for single and Lambert was secure as the night's most-honored star even before the night's top honor entertainer of the year was announced.
"Over You," written by the couple about Shelton's late brother, won song of the year at the Country Music Association Awards last November as well.
"As a songwriter, having your song and your lyrics recognized by your peers is pretty much as good as it gets," Lambert said. "And I'm so thankful for being in this genre of country music, every single time someone's nominated, I just cheer, because I love everybody to death. So thank you for accepting me as a song writer, not just as a singer, because that means the world to me."
Eric Church won two awards, including album of the year, and was tied with Jason Aldean, Little Big Town and Florida Georgia Line in overall win total.
Church, this year's top nominee, also won vocal event of the year for his collaboration with Aldean and Luke Bryan for their collaboration on "The Only Way I Know" and performed his somber but powerful song "Like Jesus Does" with only an acoustic guitar and a backup singer.
"I can't believe I just met John Fogerty," Church said as he accepted the album award from the Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman and Lambert. "We should hang out later."
Aldean, country's top-selling male act, won male vocalist of the year. Little Big Town had wins for vocal group and video of the year. Florida Georgia Line won for new artist and were previous winners in the new vocal duo/group category. And husband and wife Shawna and Keifer Thompson continued their feel-good story as Thompson Square won its second straight vocal duo of the year award.
Shawna Thompson gave a shoutout to her mother from stage.
Tears came to her eyes backstage as she explained that her father had recently passed away and she wanted to acknowledge her mother during her acceptance speech to support her.
"She's just having a really hard time," she said.
The night was full of colorful performances, but the anticipation of Garth Brooks and George Strait performing together overshadowed almost everything else. The two paid tribute to the late Dick Clark, the executive producer of the show since 1979 who passed away a year ago.
Brooks appeared on stage in flannel shirt and black cowboy hat with a Fu Manchu to perform his hit "The Dance" before Strait joined him for "The Cowboy Rides Away."
Reba McEntire introduced the two and paid tribute to Clark, momentarily breaking down as tears appeared in her eyes.
"He would slap me if he saw me crying up here," she said.
Shelton kicked the show off with his new single "Boys 'Round Here," a hip-hop-flavored ode to redneck swag. He was joined by Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow and Pistol Annies, a trio that includes his wife Miranda Lambert.
Strait made his first appearance of the night earlier, singing "Give It All We Got Tonight." Lady Antebellum debuted new song "Downtown" and Charles Kelley finished off the song by rubbing pregnant trio-mate Hillary Scott's belly. Carrie Underwood stepped out of a black Cadillac parked on stage as she started her song, "Two Black Cadillacs."
Lambert appeared later with a fiery, diamond-studded rendition of her recent hit "Mama's Broken Heart."
John Mayer joined Paisley for a guitar summit on "Beat This Summer" and Taylor Swift and Keith Urban joined Tim McGraw on stage for "Highway Don't Care," which Urban finished off with a scorching guitar solo.
AP Writer Hannah Dreier contributed to this report.
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.