The first-ever virtual telecast of the 2020 Academy of Country Music Awards happens on Wednesday, September 16, on CBS. One of the perks of being the host network for arguably the biggest night in country music is getting some inside information. This morning, September 14, Gayle King gave away one of the big winners on CBS This Morning, and Rolling Stone released a few more. There are lots of reasons to celebrate Girl Power this year.
‘Fooled Around and Fell in Love’ has already celebrated a big ACM Awards step
As much as last year’s 2019 ACM Awards tried to inch toward real inclusion and acceptance for needed new voices of change, the ceremony was a mixed bag at best. For all the talk of honor and the revered place of women in country music, a new female artist can’t draw fans to buy her album or come to a show if she can’t get her song played on the radio. On average, female country artists get only 15% of the rotation as the male artists during “prime” hours.
Mickey Guyton and Jennifer Nettles are just two of the many female artists who have made “play equity” a cause. Guyton has kept to her personal pledge of writing from her own personal truth, and her commitment is bringing her to the ACM Awards stage this Wednesday, singing her powerful hit, “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?”
Miranda Lambert has proven herself as a force throughout her career. When the “Little Red Wagon” singer hitched her talents to those of Maren Morris, Elle King, Tenille Townes, Ashley McBryde, and Caylee Hammack on the 1976 Elvin Bishop tune, well, let’s just say the harmonies and the heart made magic. Lambert, Morris, King, Townes, McBryde, and Hammack hit the road together on Miranda’s Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars tour in 2019. The September 2019 collaboration was dubbed a “one-off” by the 19-time ACM Award winner, but no one who hears it can ever listen just once. It’s not surprising that the ACM Awards honored the ensemble as Music Event of the Year.
The talented team of country music ladies topped the guys for this ACM Awards moment
The combined female force who earned this year’s early ACM Awards honor had steep competition– all from the fellas. Dan + Shay were contenders with “10,000 Hours,” featuring Justin Bieber. “Dive Bar,” the good-time romp from Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton was also among the nominees for Music Event of the Year. All credit to Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus for bringing a whole new vibe and beat to the country music realm with “Old Town Road,” but the gals still grabbed the trophy. “What Happens in a Small Town” by Brantley Gilbert, featuring Lindsay Ell, rounded out the category.
The gifted voices who gave their all on this rendition of “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” demonstrate that when a woman belts it out, she means business.
Keith Urban may be the perfect man to host these 2020 ACM Awards
Keith Urban confessed to Tracy Smith of CBS Sunday Morning that he found life in the pandemic to be very problematic during their September 13 interview. The unparalleled guitar shredder, singer, and stage showman was languishing “in sweatpants watching TV” for endless hours with his family, waiting for something to happen.
Something happened within the ACM Awards host when he was talking to a close friend, from whom he often seeks advice. Urban rattled off a litany of things “I can’t do” during the current conditions. Wisely, the friend asked, “Well, what can you do?”
Suddenly, the singer started to pivot in his mindset. About 30% of “The Speed of Now Part 1” was made under quarantine. The songs reflect finding salvation in love, hope in simple things, and daily commitment. Keith even did his part in May, performing a drive-in show to benefit front-line workers. At the close, he gave many “God blesses” in gratitude for the opportunity. When he was asked if he thought this was the future of country music, his response was swift. “God, I hope not! I wanna get out and play to people, with faces I see.”
Performances at the 2020 ACM Awards will happen from three of the most honored locations in all of country music– the Bluebird Café, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Ryman Auditorium. Tenille Townes got an early award nod of her own, as New Female Artist of the Year, with Riley Green getting recognition as New Male Artist of the Year.
From the heart of a father and an artist
As the father of two daughters with his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, Sunday Rose, 12, and Faith Margaret, 9, Keith Urban has more than a vested interest in making sure that music and society embrace acceptance and opportunity for all. Keith Urban has conveyed the unique sorrows and strength of womanhood in his performances of “Burden” at the 2019 ACM Awards and “Female” at the 2017 CMA awards. Few fathers, much less successful men in country music, have such palpable conviction. Perhaps there is no better time for Keith Urban to host this night of celebration, with the ladies off to a well-deserved start.
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