LAS VEGAS (REUTERS) - Singer Carrie Underwood returned to the stage on Sunday after a serious face injury as country stars went back to Las Vegas for the first time since a mass shooting there last October.
Opening the three-hour Academy of Country Music awards show at a hotel near the scene of the Oct 1 shooting that killed 58 people, singer Jason Aldean paid tribute to the victims and invoked the healing power of music.
He was performing on stage when a gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country festival from the window of a hotel on the Vegas strip.
In the most anticipated performance of the night, Underwood emerged from five months of isolation following a fall at her home that required 40-50 stitches to her face.
Performing her new single Cry Pretty, her face seemed well recovered and she was welcomed back with a long standing ovation.
Miranda Lambert, who was named female vocalist of the year, also won best song for her heartbreaking single Tin Man, thought to be inspired by her 2015 divorce from country star Blake Shelton.
"Thanks for sharing my broken heart with me," said Lambert, accepting her award in front of an audience that included Shelton and his girlfriend, pop singer Gwen Stefani.
Other winners on Sunday included Chris Stapleton for both male vocalist and album of the year for From A Room: Vol 1; Old Dominion for vocal group of the year; and Brothers Osborne for vocal duo of the year.
Stapleton was not present because his wife was expecting twins. Show host Reba McEntire, accepting the award on his behalf, broke the news of their arrival.
"We just found out that those little rascals came a little bit early. Hot off the press, twin boys," she said.