NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – In a pre-pandemic world, the Academy of Country Music Awards advertised itself as country music night to party with gambling, after-parties and a Las Vegas style.
This year, the red carpet, crowds, and gambling are all being replaced by COVID-19 tests, temperature checks, and face masks. The awards ceremony was delayed for five months due to the pandemic and moved to Nashville, and the show for Wednesday’s show on CBS will be much more serious than in years past.
“We’re celebrating, but we’re not partying,” said RA Clark, the show’s executive producer.
The show will feature performances from Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton with Gwen Stefani and many more, but it will be rebranded as a ‘night of heart and clap’ this year that will also reflect how harsh the pandemic is. has touched a lot of people this year, especially in the music industry.
Trisha Yearwood will perform a tribute with likely Kenny Rogers, Joe Diffie, Charlie Daniels and John Prine, all of whom passed away in 2020. Country singer Mickey Guyton’s performance of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” will emphasize food insecurity. The ACMs will also show their charitable contributions to unemployed workers in the music industry.
Leading nominees include Dan + Shay, Old Dominion and Maren Morris, and all eyes will be on the Entertainer of the Year category. Carrie Underwood, who won the category in 2008 and 2009, appears to be a likely front runner against Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett after many felt she was late for an Entertainer of the Year win at the other major country awards show, the CMA Awards, last November.
Swift, who returns to the ACM stage for the first time in seven years, was the last female performer to win ACM Entertainer of the Year in 2011. Bryan, who has also won Entertainer of the Year twice, said Underwood has risen to the qualifiers.
“I certainly believe she has been an entertainer to all entertainers and brought so much grace and class and elegance to country music,” said Bryan.
Combs, who earned his first Entertainer of the Year nomination this year after winning a New Male Artist of the Year last year, could turn out to be upset after amassing incredible streaming numbers with his first two records and reaching top of Billboard’s country radio chart for nine consecutive singles. All five Entertainer of the Year nominees open the show with a special medley, which Combs hopes he won’t mess up alongside the other seasoned performers.
“I don’t want to be the guy who turns up and says, ‘Oops! I don’t think that guy is Entertainer of the Year,’ ‘Combs said, laughing.
The eligibility period for this year’s show was calendar year 2019, and voting ended before the pandemic hit, so the prizes awarded this late in the year may sound a bit older than what’s currently popular in country music.
Already the most awarded artist in ACM history with over 30 wins, Miranda Lambert is looking to extend her five-time album of the year win with her record “Wildcard”. But the crossover success of Maren Morris’ album “GIRL” will likely appeal to voters this year as well.
Grammy winners Dan + Shay have a chance to win an ACM award for pop star Justin Bieber in the ‘Song of the Year’ category for ‘10,000 Hours’.
Reigning Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban will take over as the show host this year and the show will be broadcast from three music venues, including the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe.