Artists accepting prizes in masks. Cleaning crews covered with face shields. Quiet benches at the Grand Ole Opry House.
The Academy of Country Music presented the 55th Annual ACM Awards on Wednesday night, a one-of-a-kind show in a one-of-a-kind year for all who attended.
Carrie Underwood, accepting her half (more on this later) as Artist of the Year, perhaps put it better.
ONE FOR THE BOOKS OF RECORDINGS:ACM Awards: An unprecedented evening, from start to finish
The show, with all but acceptance speeches and a few pre-recorded performances, took country music fans to the Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry House, and Bluebird Cafe venues under neon and again full of music.
In his opening monologue, first-time host Keith Urban said the ceremony took place during an “unpredictable and troubling year for everyone.”
Were still trying to tackle two pandemics: COVID-19 and social injustice, “he said.” Far too many lives have been lost for both. But the examples set by our core workers and first responders, and the voices crying out for equality in all fields, have resonated around the world, and right here in our community of countries.
“They inspire us to come together and work together to meet these challenges.
Revolutionary performances ata surprise arrival and the expected return of Taylor Swift, here’s a look at six highlights from Wednesday’s ACM Awards.
THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS:ACM Award 2020
And the winner is … a tie?
For the first time in ACM history, the Artist of the Year went to two artists: Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett.
What’s going on right now? Rhett said in amazement in his acceptance speech.
Equally perplexed, Urband did honor to Rhett and Underwood. Rhett won for the first time in his career; Underwood had already crossed the ACM milestone in 2009 and 2010.
“2020, man,” Underwood said, adding, “All praise be to God.”
She continued, “I am more than happy to share this with Thomas Rhett, and to have my name mentioned with him and Luke (Bryan) and Luke (Combs) and Eric Church, I am more than honored. Thank you, fans, for coming out to see us, spending your hard earned money, your band, your team, everyone who makes the shows happen. You guys wait, it will happen again.
Mickey Guyton with Keith Urban
Almost a decade after signing his first record deal in Nashville, Mickey Guyton may have delivered a long-awaited breaking performance on one of country music’s biggest stages.
Guyton flewa transformativerendition from “What are you going to tell him?” accompanied by surprise guest Urban at the piano.
It was the Opry House’s only live performance on Wednesday night.
POWERFUL PERFORMANCE: Mickey Guyton sings “What are you going to tell him?”
The song, which she debuted at Rymanstage in February, tells the story of a woman who “thinks life is fair … and if you work hard, it’s enough / Skin is just skin. skin and it doesn’t matter / And her friend’s older brother is going to keep his hands to himself / And someone will believe her when she says it. “
Tim McGraw, father of three daughters, introduced the song by telling viewers that “all opportunities in life should be offered to women.”
He continued, “This … song answers the questions we face as we try to create the change that allows our girls to be who they want to be.”
An ‘Entertainer’ opening
Luke times two, a bit of Eric, Thomas and Carrie This year’s show opening recipe set the tone for what would happen in three Nashville venues.
This year’s Artist of the Year nominees kicked off the show with a mix of smash hits that pinged pong between the Opry House, the Ryman and the Bluebird.
OPENING NUMBER: ACM Awards Show Kicks Off With Successful Artist of the Year
Underwood, Rhett, Church, Combs and Bryan offered a seven-minute mix tape spanning over a decade of respective hits.
Bryan kicked off the show with the 2009 hit “Rain Is a Good Thing” before pitching it at Church for an acoustic performance of “Drink in My Hand” from the empty Opry House.
“It’s the ACM Awards,” said Bryan, “we’re going to make you dance tonight.”
Combs then performed a solo performance of “When It Rains It Pours” at the Bluebird Cafe before Rhett performed “It Goes Like This” by theRyman.
Underwood closed the opening that zipped between locations via a Google Earth graphic with a ‘Before He Cheats’ raised roof.
Underwood’s pioneering tribute
Underwood may have anchored the merry-go-round of modern country hits that kicked off this year’s ACMs, but it was his homage to the towering songs from Nashville’s past that turned out to be one of the best played on Wednesday.
The “Before He Cheats” star offered a booming salute to Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire and Patsy Cline, some of the greatest women in Opry’s unbroken circle. The Nashville institution is celebrating 95 years of being the “show that made country music famous” this year.
Underwood joined the Opry in 2008.
COUNTRY PIONEERS: Carrie Underwood pays tribute to the pioneering women of the Grand Ole Opry
“They are some of my heroes and I am very honored to stand by their side as a member of the Grand Ole Opry,” she said.
Kicking off the long appearance with Cline’s famous rendition of “Crazy,” Underwood shot parts of Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” Mandrell.
The tribute continued with “Why’d You Come in Here” by Parton and “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by McEntire, time-tested, before ending with “A Broken Wing” by McBride. .
Go to the Bluebird
Miranda Lambert, Combs, McGraw, and Jimmie Allen shone with the magic of Nashville’s songwriting gem, the Bluebird Cafe.
MIRANDA sets off: Lambert plays ‘Bluebird’ at the Bluebird Cafe
By bringing the Bluebird to viewer lounges, the ACMs offered a slice of the songwriters’ experience of intimacy when first writing what could be a life-shaping tune. It’s the opposite of what might have been when the show was originally scheduled to air from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and a fitting backdrop for a year that silenced similar clubs across the country. .
And the venue’s non-performance, not even Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s fake “Bluebird” green screen, was perhaps more touching than Lambert delivering his thoughtful track of the same name.
‘Betty’ at the Opry
With a single projector and a small accompanying harmonica, Taylor Swift returned to the Grand Ole Opry House.
This unparalleled modern pop star returned to the ACM Awards and to the Nashville roots that helped launch her career for the first time in seven years to perform “betty.” A five-minute track of acoustic storytelling heard on his surprise summer album, “Folklore,” the song was sent to country radio in late July.
She tweaked the lyrics slightly (to pop an f-bomb in the chorus), singing, “But if I just showed up at your party / Would you have me? Would you like me? / Would you tell me go straight to hell? “
THE RETURN OF TAYLOR: Swift sings ‘betty’ live from Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville
“Betty” is reminiscent of denominational country-pop from Swift’s early albums, and was therefore the first single of hers to break into Billboard’s Top 10 Hot Country Songs since “Red” in 2013.
2013 was also the last year Swift performed at ACMs or any other national awards. That year, he joined McGraw and Urban to sing “Highway Don’t Care” at the ACMs, and enlisted Alison Krauss, Vince Gill and others to perform “Red” at the CMA Awards.
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