Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and more stars with Oklahoma connections will illuminate the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards.
This year’s ACM Awards will air live from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday on CBS. The show will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+, too.
Hosted by 15-time ACM Award winner Keith Urban and powerhouse newcomer Mickey Guyton, the show will feature more than 25 artists performing from three iconic Nashville, Tennessee, venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.
COVID-19 safety measures will be observed, after the 2020 show was delayed to September in response to the pandemic.
Who is nominated?
Per usual, several artists with Sooner State ties are nominated for this year’s ACM Awards.
Despite tying for the Entertainer of the Year prize last fall, though, Underwood was not only shut out of the top category but she also was left out of the Female Artist of the Year category for the first time in her 15-year career.
Furthermore, the ACMs, despite all the talk lately about inserting much-needed equity and diversity in country music, reverted back to an all-male, all-white slate of Entertainer nominees: reigning Co-EOTY Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs and Eric Church.
In a year with no touring, it’s tough to decipher what the criteria even is for EOTY 2021, but it’s hard to argue that any of these guys met it more than Underwood. Of course, if we’re going by industry impact in the past year, why isn’t Dolly Parton nominated for helping the whole world vaccinate against COVID-19?
While the EOTY category seems like a big step back in terms of equality, every Single of the Year nomination features a female artist, and for the first time in ACM Awards history, four Black artists are nominated for awards in a single year: Guyton, Jimmie Allen, Kane Brown and John Legend.
Underwood, a Checotah native, did snag a nomination for Video of the Year for director Randee St. Nicholas’ clip for “Hallelujah,” the Oklahoman’s holiday duet with EGOT-winning entertainer Legend, who now has his first ACM Awards nod.
Likewise, pop superstar Gwen Stefani received her first ACM Awards nomination for Music Event of the Year for “Nobody But You,” her smash duet with her Tishomingo-based fiance, Shelton. The hit was produced by Clinton native Scott Hendricks.
Also in the Music Event of the Year category, Rhett shares a nod for his anthem “Be A Light” with his all-star roster of collaborators: Chockie native Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin and Urban.
The Duo of the Year category also includes two acts that are half Oklahomans: Brooks & Dunn, which features Louisiana native Kix Brooks and former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn, and Maddie & Tae, which is Maddie Marlow Font, of Sugar Land, Texas, and Taylor “Tae” Dye Kerr, of Ada.
A former Tishomingo resident, Lambert — the most-nominated female artist in ACM Awards history with 68 career nods — goes into Sunday’s show with five nominations, including her 15th nod for Female Artist of the Year, a category she’s won nine times.
Her other four nominations are for her hit “Bluebird,” which Lambert penned with Natalie Hemby and Oklahoma native Luke Dick. “Bluebird” is nominated for Single of the Year, Video of the Year and Song of the Year, with Lambert earning an extra nomination in the latter category, which she shares with her co-writers.
Who is performing?
Lambert will be performing not once but twice on the show, with fellow Texans Jack Ingram and Jon Randall, who are releasing their collaborative album “The Marfa Tapes” in May, as well as with Elle King, her recent duet partner on the raucous “Drunk (and I Don’t Wanna Go Home).”
Underwood will perform a medley of gospel songs with the legendary CeCe Winans, with whom she recorded the classic hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” for “My Savior,” the Oklahoma native’s chart-topping new collection of sacred songs.
Shelton also is due to take the ACMs stage, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his first hit single “Austin” and to play his upbeat ballad “Minimum Wage,” from his upcoming album “Body Language,” due out May 21.
Other performers on the slate include Guyton, Urban, Rhett, Stapleton, Church, Combs, Brown, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Brothers Osborne, Kenny Chesney, Dan + Shay, Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd, Alan Jackson, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, The War and Treaty, Carly Pearce, Lady A and Chris Young.
Allen and Gabby Barrett, who were last week named the ACM New Male and Female Artists of the Year, respectively, also will take the stage.
Bryan, who is competing for Entertainer as well as Album of the Year, was scheduled to perform but had to cancel after testing positive for COVID-19.
WATCH Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley Tease Blake Shelton About Miranda Lambert Divorce VIDEO BELOW:
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