The crowd of radio, media and label guests was delighted with appearances from the label group’s biggest stars, including Miranda Lambert, who kicked off the festivities with “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and then a surprise acoustic duet with Blake Shelton on “Over You.” She was then joined by her Pistol Annies cohorts Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley on the swampy “Hell on Heels” and a new track from the group’s upcoming second album.
Kelly Clarkson also wowed the audience, performing her current single, “Don’t Rush,” with Jason Sellers. She then took it up a notch, bringing out the Pistol Annies to back her on the funky “Ain’t Gonna Like This,” earning one of the night’s few standing ovations.
Other performers included Chris Young, The Henningsens, X Factor winner Tate Stevens, Jerrod Niemann and Brad Paisley, who drew laughs with “Harvey Bodine” and delivered his new single, “Beat this Summer.”
The night’s biggest surprise was saved for last, when hitmaking rock band REO Speedwagon took the stage, cranking out its classic hit “Take It on the Run” backed by Brad Paisley on guitar. The radio programmers roared their approval, and then Speedwagon kept rockin’ through hits “Music Man,” “Keep On Loving You,” “Time for Me to Fly” and “Ridin’ Out the Storm.”