First on the performance bill was the JaneDear Girls, who on the heels of their current Top 20 country single, 'Wildflower,' will be releasing their self-titled album on February 1. The 'Can You Duet' winning act Steel Magnolia took the stage next to perform their set of hits, including the Top 5 country single 'Keep On Loving You.' The real-life singing couple also paid homage to their country roots, offering a stirring rendition of Kris Kristofferson's 'Help Me Make It Through the Night.' Rounding out the group/duo category was the Band Perry. The sibling trio's flawless execution of their No. 1 song 'If I Die Young,' as well as their current top 40 hit 'You Lie' proved their nomination is well deserved.
The testosterone-dominated solo category kicked off with a bang as Eric took the stage to perform his chart-toppers, including the clear fan favorite 'Smoke a Little Smoke.' Randy was next, offering an introspective look into his spiritual side with a new tune dealing with deep issues such as God's timing. Easton, the final solo act to take the stage, was the only nominee with honor of performing two consecutive No. 1 singles, 'Roll With it' and 'I'm a Little More Country Than That.'
Luke may be handing over his title as top new artist in April, but his closing performance of 'Do I' with special help from Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott affirmed that the Georgia native will continue to be a reckoning force in country music.
The ACM is encouraging fans to visit www.VoteACM.com or www.GACTV.com/ACM starting today to vote for their favorite new artist. The winner will be announced during the live ACM Awards broadcast Sunday, April 3.