LAS VEGAS — The two most successful artists at the Academy of Country Music Awards continued their winning ways Wednesday as Alan Jackson captured album of the year for “Drive” as well as a video honor and Brooks & Dunn were named top vocal duo.
But in a program laced with patriotism, some in country music showed they were not prepared to forgive the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines for remarks critical of President Bush and the war in Iraq.
The trio was nominated in three categories but went home emptyhanded. Vince Gill dropped his voice in announcing their nomination for entertainer of the year, and it was roundly booed by the Las Vegas audience.
The award to Brooks & Dunn extended their collection of ACMs to a record 17. Jackson’s tally rose to 11.
The show repeatedly saluted the armed forces, including cheers for three freed POWs of the Iraq war who were invited onstage.
Kenny Chesney captured two major awards — male vocalist of the year and record of the year for “The Good Stuff,” ending a six-year drought since he was named new male vocalist in 1997.
Jackson, who won three honors including male vocalist a year ago, had six nominations this year — two behind Toby Keith and one ahead of Chesney. Keith avoided a second straight shutout by taking entertainer of the year.
Martina McBride was named female vocalist for the second straight year.
Joe Nichols, who is touring with Jackson, captured new male vocalist honors, riding back-to-back hits “The Impossible” and “Brokenheartedsville.” He dedicated the award to Tony Brown, the head of his record label Universal South, who is recovering from a severe head injury received in a fall.
The show featured more than a dozen performances, including the Dixie Chicks, a late addition appearing by satellite in their hometown of Austin, Texas.
When the boos began at the end of the show, Gill urged the audience to “Stop it, stop it.” He added, “You know who gets blessed when you forgive — you.”
The show, televised by CBS, moved to Las Vegas this year for the first time in the event’s 38-year history.
Host Reba McEntire managed to get both the Chicks and Las Vegas in her opening monologue: “Everybody here loves to gamble,” she said. “They’re backstage right now checking the latest odds on the Dixie Chicks playing the Bush family reunion.”