Luke Bryan won the coveted Entertainer of the Year title at last night’s (18) 56th Academy of Country Music Awards in Nashville. Bryan was absent, having recently tested positive for Covid-19, although he returned to his role on American Idol after a rapid recovery. Other major ACM honors went to Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, and Chris Stapleton.
The awards took place jointly at the Ryman Auditorium, the Bluebird Café, and the Grand Ole Opry House, co-hosted by Keith Urban and Mickey Guyton and broadcast live on CBS. They came only eight months after the delayed 2020 show. Bryan won the Entertainer category ahead of fellow nominees Eric Church, Luke Combs, Rhett, and Stapleton.
Morris took both the Female Artist, in a shortlist that also included Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, and Carly Pearce. Rhett was Male Artist of the Year ahead of Dierks Bentley, Combs, Church, and Stapleton, while the latter artist won Album of the Year for Starting Over. Morris also took Song of the Year with the major hit “The Bones.” She sang her duet “Chasing After You” with husband Ryan Hurd at the event, and tweeted “this night ain’t real.”
Dan + Shay’s remarkable run continued as they were named Duo of the Year, as did Gabby Barrett with New Female Artist. Jimmie Allen was named New Male Artist, while Old Dominion took the Group title. The 2021 ACMs also featured success for Kane Brown, whose “Worldwide Beautiful” was Video of the Year.
In a previously-announced award, Carly Pearce and Lee Brice won Single of the Year with “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” which was also named Music Event of the Year. “Y’all I’m seriously at a loss for words. More later,” she posted.
Among performances at the ACMs, Guyton delivered “Hold On” from the film Breakthrough, while Alan Jackson sang a mash-up of his classic hit “Drive” and his new song “You’ll Always Be My Baby (Written for Daughters’ Weddings).” Dierks Bentley teamed with the War and Treaty for a bluegrass cover of U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” from the Station Inn. Other highlights included McBryde’s “Martha Devine” from Nashville’s Bridge Building, from which Lady A also did “Like A Lady”; Miranda Lambert and Elle King’s opening “Drunk and I Don’t Want to Go Home”; and Church’s “Bunch of Nothing,” from his new Heart album.