The British singer delighted fans as he teamed up with US country music star Luke Combs to perform a powerful rendition of Life Goes On from his recently released sixth studio album, titled - (Subtract).
Appearing in a simple blue denim shirt with an acoustic guitar, Sheeran was joined by his friend Combs, who was nominated for the night’s top prize of entertainer of the year.
The 2023 ACM awards were co-hosted by Garth Brooks and US country veteran Dolly Parton, who took to the stage to open the show by wheeling a goat in a small wagon.
The singer, 77, closed out the show with her first live performance of World On Fire, the lead original track of her first rock album, which is due for release in November.
Lainey Wilson took home female artist of the year, as well as album of the year for Bell Bottom Country while Wallen won male artist of the year.
Sheeran’s appearance at the ACMs come a week after he won his copyright trial over similarities between his hit single Thinking Out Loud and the Marvin Gaye 1973 classic Let’s Get It On.
The British songwriter had denied stealing elements of Gaye’s hit when writing his own 2014 song.
Heirs to the estate of Gaye’s co-writer had sought to argue that Sheeran owed them money for copyright infringement for allegedly copying the melody, harmony and rhythm of Let’s Get It On.
But jurors in New York sided with Sheeran, who had argued that the claim, if won, would be a threat to all musicians who create their own music.
The star said he was “obviously very happy” over the victory after having suggested he would quit music if he lost.
Speaking outside court in New York, he said: “I’m obviously very happy with the outcome of this case and it looks like I’m not going to have to retire from my day job after all.
“But at the same time I am absolutely frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all.”
He added: “If the jury had decided this matter the other way we might as well say goodbye to the creative freedom of songwriters.
“We need to be able to write our original music and engage in independent creativity without worrying at every step on the way that said creativity will be wrongly called into question.”
Sheeran’s legal team had argued that any similarities between the songs involved basic musical “building blocks” that cannot be copyrighted.