Backstage at the 2013 ACM Awards

By CONCETTA DELUCO

April 08, 2013

Big hair, big talent and big wins, a trifecta that could not be beat at the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards. And after an evening full of all star performances, a lot of Southern swag, and some shocking wins, ET caught up with some of the best in the country crooning biz backstage where there was plenty of love to go around.

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Not only was he the evening's host-est of the most-est, but Luke Bryan also snagged the much coveted title of Entertainer of the Year, a win that has previously gone to legends like Garth Brooks, Shania Twain and Kenny Chesney and a title that visibly shook the ever gracious songster. Still fighting back tears backstage, the Country Girl Shake It For Me singer said he is overwhelmed with appreciation for the fans who voted and completely surprised because it has not been an easy journey.

"My family and the people in my circle who know how hard we worked for this. We can not thank the fans enough. It is really the highlight of my musical career," Bryan says.

"When you talk about growing up just a child of country and being from a small town and you watch for years, entertainers of the year win Entertainer of the Year and the fact that I have that now, I don't even know that I can completely grasp it."

Also unable to grasp the magnitude of his own successes was a very humble, Garth Brooks, found backstage and coming off a high from a duet performance honoring Dick Clark with country legend George Strait. Undeniably a country legend in his own right, the Friends in Low Places singer joked about how he prepared to be on stage with his idol, George Strait.

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"I told him(George Strait) in rehearsal what are you wearing because I tried to be you all my life and I want to try now to be away from ya a little bit. But he's a great talent."

But blooming bromances did not end with Strooks (Brooks & Strait), plenty of back patting and ego boosting in the way that only talented and handsome country singers know how came in the form of Keith Urban and Tim Mc Graw. Along with Taylor Swift who helps balance out the brawny duo, and after a successful performance of the trio’s new collaborative single, Highway Don’t Care admittedly the compliments were well deserved.

And in the spirit of relationships, another one blossomed as superstar in the making -- Hunter Hayes -- worshipped superstar Stevie Wonder. The unlikely pair brought down the house with a performance of Wonder's Sir Duke. After the show, the Wanted singer, showed nothing but love and appreciation for the opportunity to work with the R&B legend.

"This is something I've been dreaming about for a long time," Hayes said, "and I've been hoping for it, wishing for it, praying for it and I just hope we get to do it again."

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And for Wonder the feelings were completely mutual. "He's(Hayes) calling me his hero, "I'm calling him my young hero," Wonder said.



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