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The biggest stars in country music will be honored on Sunday at the 56th annual ACM Awards.
The awards are handed out by the Academy of Country Music in a ceremony set to air Sunday on CBS (live from 8-11 p.m. ET; tape-delayed in the Pacific time zone). It also will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Here’s what you need to know about Sunday’s show.
A veteran and a relative newcomer will take the stage as hosts for Sunday’s show.
Keith Urban, a 15-time ACM nominee, and Mickey Guyton, nominated for new female artist of the year, will host the show together. Urban also hosted last year’s show, where Guyton performed “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” — which featured Urban as a surprise guest on piano.
At this year’s show, Guyton will perform “Hold On,” while Urban also will take the stage for a performance.
Guyton recently made history as the first Black female solo artist to earn a Grammy nomination in a country category (best country solo performance) for “Black Like Me.”
The ceremony will air from three iconic country music venues in Nashville: the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe.
The awards show is one of several that have not been pretaped amid the pandemic, with producers noting that they are following all national, state and local guidelines, in addition to instating additional safety measures.
In addition, there will performances broadcast from well-known locations across the city, including the Station Inn, Bridge Building and on Broadway.
Producers said they are featuring “an unprecedented number of world television premiere performances” at Sunday’s show.
Elle King and Miranda Lambert will open the show with “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home).” In addition to Guyton and Urban, others include Dierks Bentley performing U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” with husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty, Brothers Osborne (“I’m Not For Everyone”), Kenny Chesney (“Knowing You”), Eric Church (“Bunch Of Nothing”), Luke Combs (“Forever After All”), Dan + Shay (“Glad You Exist”), Alan Jackson with “You’ll Always Be My Baby” and a special mashup for “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” Miranda Lambert with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall (“In His Arms”), Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd (“Chasing After You”), Thomas Rhett premiering “What’s Your Country Song” and “Country Again,” Blake Shelton celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first hit single “Austin” as well as “Minimum Wage,” Chris Stapleton (“Maggie’s Song”), Chris Young and Kane Brown (“Famous Friends”). In addition, Carly Pearce and Lee Brice will duet on “I Hope You’re Happy Now”; Carrie Underwood will perform a medley from her new album of gospel hymns, My Savior, which will also feature a duet with CeCe Winans; and Kelsea Ballerini and Kenny Chesney will perform together for “half of my hometown.”
Other performers include Lady A, Jimmie Allen, Gabby Barrett, Little Big Town and Ashley McBryde.
The ACM Awards has already unveiled a few winners. Allen was named new male artist of the year, and Barrett is the winner of the new female artist of the year award.
But there are a slew of awards yet to be revealed. Morris and Stapleton are the top nominees, with six apiece. Lambert follows with five noms, giving her a total of 68 career nominations, the most of any female in ACM Awards history. She’s also up for female artist of the year, an award she’s won nine time previously, alongside Morris, Ballerini, McBryde and Pearce.
Vying for male artist of the year honors are Bentley, Church, Combs, Rhett and Stapleton.
There is a lot of overlap in the nominees for that category and the biggest award of the night — entertainer of the year, where Church, Combs, Rhett and Stapleton are nominated alongside Luke Bryan.
While the aforementioned category is dominated by males, the ACM Awards noted that every song nominated for single of the year is by a female artist — a first. The nominees are “Bluebird” (Lambert), “I Hope” (Barrett), “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Pearce and Lee Brice), “More Hearts Than Mine” (Ingrid Andress) and “The Bones” (Morris).
Meanwhile, for the first time in ACM Awards history, four Black artists are nominated for awards in a single year including Allen, Brown, Guyton and John Legend.
Legend is one of several first-time nominees and will be vying for video of the year for his duet with Carrie Underwood on “Hallelujah.” Other first-timers include Gwen Stefani, who received a nomination alongside Blake Shelton for music event of the year for their duet “Nobody But You”; and Pink, who is nominated alongside Urban for music event of the year for their duet “One Too Many.” (Urban also is nominated again in that same category for his collaboration with Rhett, Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott and Chris Tomlin on “Be a Light” and as a producer on “One Too Many.”)
The ACM Awards ceremony is produced by Dick Clark Productions, a division of MRC, which is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media titled P-MRC.
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