By KRISTIN M. HALL, AP Entertainment Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In shock twist that match an surprising yr of firsts, Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett tied for entertainer of the yr on the Academy of Country Music Awards, the primary time the highest prize has ever been break up between two artists.
Underwood and Rhett appeared equally shocked after host Keith Urban introduced the tie on the awards present held on the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday.
“Keith, what is happening right now?” Rhett requested, astounded, earlier than thanking his household. Underwood appeared proper after him remarking, “2020, right?” earlier than including, “I am more than happy to share this with Thomas Rhett.”
The present on CBS had been delayed for months due to the pandemic, was moved from Las Vegas to Nashville for the primary time and held with out audiences in empty venues. There was quite a lot of anticipation for the present, which featured Taylor Swift making her first look on the ACMs in seven years.
Underwood’s win is her third complete in that class and Rhett’s first win. Coincidentally, a lady hasn’t gained that award since 2011 when Swift final gained it.
Swift’s acoustic efficiency of “betty” from her new album “Folklore,” was easy with simply a few stage floodlights and a harmonica participant for accompaniment, however her smile glowed as she strummed and sang the heartbreak tune.
Luke Combs, who had additionally been nominated for entertainer of the yr, nonetheless went dwelling a winner by selecting up album of the yr and male artist of the yr. Amassing great streaming numbers in his first couple years, Combs thanked followers for his or her help from the Bluebird Cafe.
“This is a lot to process right now, I just can’t believe this,” Combs mentioned. “I just want to thank everybody in my life, my team, my beautiful wife and the fans. You guys have done everything for me. ”
Country group Old Dominion gained tune of the yr and group of the yr, as they acknowledged how the empty seats in entrance of them reminded them of people that they’d misplaced.
The awards present aired from empty venues in Nashville with no followers and no applause, even when winners bought up reside to simply accept their awards. Matthew Ramsey, lead singer of Old Dominion, mentioned the empty venue and quiet made him consider family and friends they’d misplaced.
“I can feel them all,” Ramsey mentioned on the stage of the Opry House as he accepted the award for tune of the yr for “One Man Band.” “They are so proud, and it’s such an honor to receive this in their presence.”
Host Keith Urban famous all of the adjustments this yr for the present and for the nation basically, saying 2020 has been an “unpredictable and unsettling year.” After noting wildfires on the West Coast, hurricanes within the South, Urban mentioned the nation is battling two pandemics: COVID-19 and social injustice.
“Far too many lives have been lost to both,” he mentioned. “But the examples set by essential workers, our first responders, along with the voices crying out for equality in all walks of life, have echoed around the world and right here in our country community.”
Maren Morris, who was a number one nominee, gained two awards, together with feminine artist of the yr and music occasion of the yr.
“This is so weird talking to no one, but I have so many people to thank. This is an award that I never expected to win,” mentioned the brand new mom, who thanked her husband and child boy, Hayes, earlier than blurting out “Oh my God, I have to pee!”
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, who weren’t in Nashville, had been in a inexperienced display screen room that became a digital duplicate of the Bluebird for his or her duet “Happy Anywhere.” Shelton gained single of the yr for his tune, “God’s Country.”
Miranda Lambert carried out a stripped-down model of her No. 1 tune “Bluebird,” on the Bluebird Cafe in a blue fringed shirt and a shiny belt. Lambert’s vocals appeared to refill the area within the tiny songwriters’ membership surrounded by tables and chairs, however no followers.
Underwood sang a tribute to iconic feminine Opry members, together with Patsy Cline, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Barbara Mandrell, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. She effortlessly breezed by snippets of classics like “Crazy,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That,” and “Fancy.”
“They are some of my heroes and I am so honored to stand alongside them as a fellow member of the Opry,” mentioned Underwood, who sang her coronary heart out to a venue that glinted with lights the place folks ought to have been.
The eligibility interval for this yr’s present was calendar yr 2019 and voting ended earlier than the pandemic hit.
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