For the first time in the history of the ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards, the prestigious Entertainer of the Year title was shared, by Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood, who previously won the award on her own in 2008 and 2009. “2020, right?” she said on accepting the accolade, summing up the feelings of many about the unusual circumstances and result, which sparked fierce debate on social media.
The awards, staged in Nashville, also a first, and hosted by Keith Urban, featured socially distanced performances from the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Café by an array of country’s biggest names. Underwood presented a medley of songs by country heroines, singing Dolly Parton’s “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That,” Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Reba McEntire’s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” Barbara Mandrell’s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” and Martina McBride’s “A Broken Wing.”
Maren Morris was named Female Artist of the Year, remarking “This is so weird talking to no one. Thank you country music, and vote!” The all-conquering Luke Combs took Male Artist and Album of the Year for What You See Is What You Get. Another notable feature of the evening was Taylor Swift’s performance of “Betty” at the Opry:
Rhett was also a two-time winner, also taking Video of the Year for “Remember You Young,” and so were Old Dominion, with Best Group and Song of the Year for “One Man Band.” The latter two artists had five nominations each, along with Morris.
Dan + Shay won Duo of the Year with Tenille Townes and Riley Green taking New Female and Male Artist respectively, in awards announced last month. Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” was named Single of the Year. Hillary Lindsey won the Songwriter trophy for the first time and the Music Event of the Year was Miranda Lambert’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” featuring Morris, Ashley McBryde, Townes, Caylee Hammack & Elle King.