Early ACM Awards winners announced

All eyes will be on Las Vegas on April 15 as the nation’s greatest country music stars converge upon the MGM Grand for the glittering 53rd annual ACM Awards. The awards have been honoring the industry’s leading lights since 1966 and they always attract an all-star roster of performers and nominees. Chris Stapleton leads the way this year with eight nominations, followed closely by Thomas Rhett with six and then Keith Urban and songwriter Shane McAnally with five apiece. Country legend Reba McEntire will emcee the event for the 15 th time, and it will be her first time hosting the awards in six years. With performances from Rhett, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan and more, it promises to be a fantastic show.

Excitement mounted this week after organizers announced the first batch of winners. Lauren Alaina claimed the New Female Vocalist of the Year after defeating Danielle Bradbery, Carly Pearce and RaeLynn. This coveted gong has previously been given to the likes of Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes and Taylor Swift, so Alaina is being tipped for superstardom. Brett Young emerged successful in a competitive New Male Vocalist of the Year category, usurping Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Devin Dawson and Russell Dickerson. Midland landed the New Vocal Duo/Group of the Year award ahead of High Valley, LANCO, LoCash and Runaway Jane.

McEntire surprised the winners with a call live on TV and she told Alaina: “Honey, I’m so proud for you. You guys have worked so hard, and this is what our business needs: more like you.” She burst into tears at the news, while Young was slightly more reserved in his excitement and Midland did not quite believe it was McEntire on the line. Now that three exciting, up-and-coming acts have been rewarded for their hard work and talent, attention will mount ahead of the main event on April 15.

McEntire thought she would never host the awards again, but ACM executive producer Rac Clark convinced her via a call to her manager, Clarence Spalding. “I really very grateful to come back,” she said. “I’m really going to have a lot of fun with it. Clarence came to me and said RacClark had called him and said, ‘Would Reba be interested in hosting the ACMs again?’ I looked at Clarence and said, ‘I never thought I’d say this, but I had missed hosting the ACMs so much. Yes, I would love to.’”

McEntire is up for Female Vocalist of the Year alongside Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris. Male Vocalist of the Year features Stapleton, Urban, Rhett, Jason Aldean and Chris Young. Meanwhile, Stapleto, Urban, Byan, Aldean and Garth Brooks are all up for Entertainer of the Year. It will be ferociously competitive and speculation rages as to who will seize glory on the night.

5Dimes will have the latest odds and they are looking extremely close due to the vast array of star quality that currently exists in the country music scene.

Stapleton’s eight nominations are spread across five categories and also include album, single and song of the year. He is a double nominee in album of the year, while Broken Halos and Whiskey and You are both up for Song of the Year. Life Changes by Rhett is also in the mix for Album of the Year, and Urban has received his eighth nod for entertainer of the year and his eleventh for male vocalist. McAnally’s nominations are for his work on the music of Urban, Midland, Sam Hunt and Old Dominion. Morris and Miranda Lambert each received four nominations, and Lambert could move ahead of Brooks & Dunn as the most successful artist in ACM history if she is successful.

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