Dallas is basking in the country music glory this weekend, and to get the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards kicked off in true Texas style, the organization threw a fundraising bash at the Omni Dallas downtown. VIP country music fans stepped out in their best cowboy chic attire for the first ACM Lifting Lives Gala hosted by the king and queen of country music, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
Behind the scenes, the power couple spoke to the media, holding hands and glowing as they shared their passion for raising money for kids in need. The talented duo made a pact to enjoy the weekend with no expectations, as Brooks is nominated for Entertainer of the Year Award on Sunday.
When asked about being nominated, Brooks answered he "had already won," while gesturing to his wife and all of the people who showed up for the gala. Back in the ballroom, Montel Williams and Nancy O'Dell temporarily took over hosting duties, welcoming attendees and getting them excited about the terrific show to come.
In anticipation of the first act hitting the stage, guests — including Jerry Jones, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Sybil and David Yurman, Academy of Country Music CEO Bob Romeo, Josh Dorr, Kim Sater, Jennifer and Stewart Richards, Kimberly and Justin Whitman, and Courtney Kerr — partook in dirty martinis and steak dinners that concluded with cheesecake that was rumored to be Yearwood's recipe.
The concert started with intimate performances by Hunter Hayes, Little Big Town and The Band Perry. The latter called up ACM Lifting Lives Campers to perform a song called "Bright Eyes," which was written collectively by the band and the campers at last summer's camp in Nashville.
A break in the music called for some live auction action, and Brooks auctioned off not one but two of his beloved red pick-up trucks. Other prizes included a second-row ticket package to Sunday's ACM Awards at AT&T Stadium, a David Yurman bracelet and two Stetson cowboy hats made especially for Brooks to wear during awards weekend. Those Stetsons fetched $60,000 of the total, which was presumed to be around half a million dollars.
The show picked back up with a soulful performance by Lady Antebellum, who got everyone in the ballroom on their feet and singing along with each and every word. That momentum carried into the finale performance started by Keith Urban, who showed everyone how an electric guitar is properly played.
Urban then called Brooks onto the stage, and the crowd went nuts as he started his famous "Friends in Low Places." Yearwood joined them and sang her hit "She's in Love With the Boy," while Urban and Brooks played guitar and sang back-up.
The night came to a close with a moving performance of Brooks' "The Dance," which was dedicated to everyone in the room who helped raise crucial funds for the evening's causes. With Brooks and Hayes sharing vocals and Urban on the guitar, it's possible this was the most epic rendition of the song that Dallas has ever heard live.
Guests left around midnight with a Brooks buzz and goodies from Southwest Airlines and Mary Kay. Proceeds from the gala benefited ACM Lifting Lives and Brooks' charity, Teammates for Kids — specifically the Child Life Zones in Children's Health of Dallas and Cook Children's of Fort Worth.