The Academy of Country Music Awards published the full list of nominees for all categories on February 26. But fans were quick to point out that no women were included in the nominations for the 2021 Entertainer of the Year Award. Not to at all disparage the nominees for the honor this year, because all of the artists nominated are more than worthy. However, the ACM awards do not have a kind history toward women in regard to this category.
The ladies are doing well in other categories and Maren Morris is being celebrated for her six nominations this year. Which is the highest number of nominations an artist received this year. She tied Chris Stapleton, an Entertainer of the Year nominee, for the most nominations this year. And Miranda Lambert is also sitting pretty with five nominations of her own. The chief executive of the Academy of Country Music, Damon Whiteside, chose to highlight how the ACMs are recognizing female artists more in his LA Times statement.
“While our entertainer of the year category is dominated by male artists this year, the academy is thrilled to recognize all of our deserving nominees and to celebrate two important female firsts: For the first time ever, the single of the year category features all-female artists and the audio engineer of the year category includes its first-ever female nominee.”
Are the ladies getting the recognition they deserve?
Whiteside is not wrong to point out that the ladies swept the Single of the Year category nominations. Miranda Lambert, Gabby Barrett, Ingrid Andress, Maren Morris and Carly Pearce (with Lee Brice, let’s not forget!) all getting nods is impressive. But is it enough? Whiteside went on to say that he saw “positive signs” for women in country music; the first being Carrie Underwood being the reigning Entertainer of the Year. “Maren Morris is tied for most nominations this year,” Whiteside said.
So, yes there is a point, but how many women have historically won the title of Entertainer of the Year at the ACM Awards? That answer is that in the 56-year history of the ACM awards only eight women have ever won the top prize.
Loretta Lynn was the first woman to ever win Entertainer of the Year at the ACM awards in 1975. She was also the first female artist to be nominated for the award. Over the course of her career, she received a total of eight nominations.
Barbara Mandrell took home the top prize in 1980. She went on to receive three more nominations in 81, 82, and 83. But her nominations coincided with Alabama going on a five-year winning streak of Entertainer of the Year from 1981 to 1985.
Reba broke the exceptional dry spell for female artists claiming the brass ring in 1994. Thirteen years is a really long time for the ladies to go unrecognized in any category. Reba had received yearly nominations for four years prior to her win and nine nods in total. But she only converted once.
The “I Feel Like a Woman” singer broke the next dry spell in 1999. Shania won her award the year after her first and only other nomination for Entertainer of the Year.
The Dixie Chicks took home the prize in 2000. The group has since changed their name, removing Dixie, so now they are The Chicks.
Carrie is the winningest female artist in this category. The “Church Bells” singer won three Entertainer of the Year awards in 2009, 2010 and 2020. With only five nominations and three wins that is an impressive conversion rate. But her 2020 win was a co-win with Thomas Rhett, who has been nominated again this year. The tie for the award between Rhett and Underwood was a first in ACM history.
Although no longer a country music singer, Taylor left her mark on country music permanently. Taylor won Entertainer of the Year twice first in 2011 and then in 2012. Swift also received five nominations like Carrie. But what sticks out is that Carrie and Taylor both won back-to-back years and they made up the longest streak of female wins in the category at four years.
Now it has to be said that there are some notable ladies missing from this list of winners. Whiteside pointed to Miranda Lambert’s total number of nominations as proof that women were not overlooked. “…and Miranda Lambert continues her reign as the most-nominated artist in ACM Awards history.”
And while this is true, in fact, Miranda Lambert has won more ACM awards than any other artist. But she does not have an Entertainer of the Year award, despite her five nominations. Another thing of note is that Carrie Underwood’s 2020 nomination was the first time since 2017 that a lady had even been nominated. Carrie’s win also broke an eight-year drought of female artists claiming the top spot. Prior to 2020, the last female win was Taylor Swift in 2012.
So, while there may be more female representation in other categories the Entertainer of the Year award is not. With only eight women holding winning this award and eleven total wins in 56 years is not a great example of female representation. But hopefully, the ACMs will do better next year.
The ACM Awards will be airing on CBS at 8/7 CT on April 18.
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