Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt each picked up two awards. Bryan was named artist of the year and male vocalist of the year, while Hunt received breakthrough male of the year and digital album of the year.
Other winners included Kelsea Ballerini (breakthrough female of the year), Garth Brooks (touring artist of the year), Florida Georgia Line (group/duo of the year), Chris Stapleton (album of the year) and Carrie Underwood (female artist of the year).
The two-hour broadcast featured 14 performances, including Kelsea Ballerini (“Dibs”), 2016 NASH Icon Award recipients Brooks & Dunn (“Red Dirt Road”), Luke Bryan (“Huntin’, Fishin’ And Lovin’ Every Day”), Cam (“Mayday”), Dan + Shay (“Nothin’ Like You”/”From The Ground Up”), Florida Georgia Line (who premiered “H.O.L.Y.,” a song from their new album due out this summer), Sam Hunt (“Make You Miss Me”), Chris Janson (“Buy Me a Boat”), Martina McBride (“Reckless”), Thomas Rhett (“Die A Happy Man”), Cole Swindell (“You Should Be Here”) and Carrie Underwood (“Church Bells”).
Three of country music’s leading ladies — Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles and Cam — kicked off the evening with a performance of McBride’s No. 1 hit anthem “This One’s For the Girls,” while legendary duo Brooks & Dunn performed their 2013 megahit “Red Dirt Road” after receiving the 2016 NASH Icon Award. The award, which celebrates an iconic artist whose extraordinary talent has influenced generations of musicians, was presented by longtime friend and 2014 NASH Icon recipient Reba McEntire.
And Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey introduced Toby Keith’s tribute to his friend Merle Haggard, with Haggard’s longtime band the Strangers featuring Merle’s son, Ben.
Presenters at the second annual show included: Paula Abdul, Chase Bryant, Terry Crews, Cat Deeley, Sara Evans, Trent Harmon, Jana Kramer, Chris Lane, Maddie & Tae, McConaughey, Scotty McCreery, McEntire, Jennifer Nettles, Michael Ray, Canaan Smith, Luke Wilson and Dwight Yoakam.
The American Country Countdown Awards are based on country music’s longest- running radio countdown show (43 years), “American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks,” and honors country music’s biggest stars, based on album sales and radio airplay. Finalists and winners for all categories are based on radio airplay charts, sales and streaming data from April 1, 2015 to March 28 provided by BuzzAngle Music. Touring data is from Pollstar “The Concert Hotwire.”