Rob Lowe hosted the all-star special at the Bridgestone Arena. All-American Rejects, Gavin DeGraw and Joe Walsh sang tributes to Swift, Chesney and Paisley, respectively. Meanwhile, Aldean and Lady Antebellum delivered their own live performances.
In their pre-taped video segments and in-person acceptance speeches, all five honorees reflected on the past year and sincerely acknowledged the accomplishments of the other recipients. The five artists were chosen by the network based upon their career achievements in 2011.
St. Louis Cardinals' coach Tony La Russa and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton presented an award, as did several surprise guests. Meanwhile, congratulatory video messages were offered by
Celebrity chef Stephanie Izard presented the gourmet meal, which featured spiced shrimp on barbecue pork, coconut braised beef short rib and butternut squash-cheddar malasadas.