The Latest: Aldean wins ACM entertainer of the year award

Jason Aldean performs "You Make It Easy" at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 15, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

LAS VEGAS — The Latest on the 2018 Academy of Country Music Awards, which are being presented Sunday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

Jason Aldean has won his third consecutive entertainer of the year trophy at the 2018 Academy of Country Music Awards.

Aldean says "it's been a rough year," referring to the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where a lone gunman killed 58 people at the country music event. Aldean was onstage when the gunfire started.

He thanked to the people who "showed us love and support over the last six months."

Of the victims, Aldean said, "You guys are in our hearts always."

The ACM Awards brought the country music community back to Las Vegas six months after the massive shooting occurred. Aldean closed his speech by telling the audience: "We love Las Vegas. Vegas strong."

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5:30 p.m.

The ACM Awards have opened with a somber tribute to the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting, with some of the biggest country stars.

Jason Aldean opened the show, telling the audience they thought about opening the show with a song, but that the moment was too big to capture with just one performance. He was joined onstage by Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett. Lambert told the audience that the show would unite people "through the healing power of music."

The mood lightened shortly after when host Reba McEntire opened the show, cracking jokes about several stars and the decision to have her host the show solo after two male stars shared hosting duties the previous two years.

Kenny Chesney delivered the first performance, singing his new song "Get Along."

Morris transitioned from the intro to performing her song "Rich."

Lambert won the first award of the night, taking home the song of the year trophy for her son "Tin Man."

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7:30 a.m.

Country music is making a major return to Las Vegas with the 2018 ACM Awards, six months after a lone gunman killed 58 people at a country music festival in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Sunday's show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will mark an emotional night, though the awards show is known as the genre's biggest party of the year. It will air at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

Jason Aldean, who was onstage when the shooting started at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Vegas, will perform. Carrie Underwood will give her first television appearance after sustaining an injury to her face and wrist when she sings her new song, "Cry Pretty."

Chris Stapleton, who earned his first entertainer of the year nod, is the top nominee with eight.

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