Arab Times

Underwood, Rhett tie for top prize

- Entertainment · Musicians · Celebrity Culture · Celebrities · Country Music · Music · Nashville · Tennessee · Las Vegas · Taylor Swift · Luke Bryan · Luke Combs · Miranda Lambert · Patsy Cline · Reba McEntire · Loretta Lynn · Dolly Parton · Katy Perry · Carrie Underwood · Thomas Rhett · Academy of Country Music · Keith Urban · Eric Church · Maren Morris · Elle King · Ashley McBryde · Blake Shelton · Gwen Stefani · Dan + Shay · Martina McBride · Barbara Mandrell · Tenille Townes

NASHVILLE, Tenn, Sept 17, (Agen­cies): In a sur­prise twist that fit an un­ex­pected year of firsts, Car­rie Underwood and Thomas Rhett tied for en­ter­tainer of the year at the Academy of Coun­try Mu­sic Awards (ACMs), the first time the top prize has been split between two artists.

Underwood and Rhett seemed equally taken aback after host Keith Ur­ban an­nounced the tie at the awards show held at the Grand Ol’ OpryHouse in Nashville, Ten­nessee, on Wed­nes­day.

“Keith, what is hap­pen­ing right now?” Rhett asked, as­tounded, be­fore thank­ing his fam­ily. Underwood ap­peared right after him re­mark­ing, “2020, man?” be­fore adding, “I am more than happy to share this with Thomas Rhett.”

The show on CBS had been de­layed for months be­cause of the pan­demic, moved from Las Ve­gas to Nashville for the first time and held with­out au­di­ences in empty venues. There was a lot of an­tic­i­pa­tion for the show, which fea­tured Tay­lor Swift mak­ing her first ap­pear­ance at the ACMs.

Underwood’s win is her third to­tal in that cat­e­gory and Rhett’s first win. They beat out other nom­i­nees Eric Church, Luke Bryan and Luke Combs. Co­in­ci­den­tally, a wo­man hasn’t won that award since 2011 when Swift last won it.

Swift didn’t need a lot of bells and whis­tles for her highly an­tic­i­pated re­turn to the Academy of Coun­try Mu­sic Awards. Swift made her first ap­pear­ance at the ACMs in seven years on Wed­nes­day with an acous­tic per­for­mance of her song “betty” from her new record “Folk­lore” in a dark­ened Grand Ol’ Opry House. Un­like her ex­trav­a­gant tours and other awards show ap­pear­ances, Swift kept it sim­ple with just a cou­ple of stage flood­lights and a har­mon­ica player for ac­com­pa­ni­ment, but her smile glowed as she strummed and sang the heart­break song.

Combs still went home a win­ner by pick­ing up al­bum of the year and male artist of the year. After amass­ing tremen­dous stream­ing num­bers and nine con­sec­u­tive No. 1 coun­try ra­dio hits, Combs thanked fans for their sup­port from the Blue­bird Cafe.

“This is a lot to process right now, I just can’t be­lieve this,” Combs said.

“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 won song of the year and group of the year, and band mem­bers Matthew Ram­sey, Trevor Rosen and Brad Tursi earned ad­di­tional in­di­vid­ual awards as song­writ­ers for “One Man Band.”

The awards show aired from empty venues in Nashville with no fans and no ap­plause, even when win­ners got up live to ac­cept their awards. Ram­sey, the lead singer of Old Do­min­ion, said the empty venue and quiet made him think of friends and fam­ily they had lost.

“I can feel them all,” Ram­sey said. “They are so proud, and it’s such an honor to re­ceive this in their pres­ence.”


Ur­ban noted all the changes this year for the show and for the coun­try in gen­eral, say­ing 2020 has been an “un­pre­dictable and un­set­tling year.” After not­ing wild­fires on the West Coast, hur­ri­canes in the South, Ur­ban said the coun­try is bat­tling two pan­demics: COVID-19 and so­cial in­jus­tice.

“Far too many lives have been lost to both,” he said. “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 lead­ing nom­i­nee, won two awards, in­clud­ing fe­male artist of the year and mu­sic event of the year, for a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mi­randa Lambert, Caylee Ham­mack, Te­nille Townes, Elle King and Ash­ley McBryde.

“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,” said Mor­ris, who thanked her hus­band and baby boy, Hayes, be­fore blurt­ing out “Oh my, I have to pee!”

Blake Shel­ton and Gwen Stefani, weren’t in Nashville, but turned a green screen room into a vir­tual replica of the Blue­bird Cafe for their duet “Happy Any­where.” Shel­ton won sin­gle of the year for his song, “... Coun­try.”

Lambert performed a stripped-down ver­sion of her No. 1 song “Blue­bird,” at the Blue­bird Cafe in a blue fringed shirt and a sparkly belt. Lambert’s vo­cals seemed to fill up the space in the tiny song­writ­ers’ club sur­rounded by ta­bles and chairs, but no fans.

In awards an­nounced be­fore the show aired, Rhett also won mu­sic video of the year, while Townes won new fe­male artist of the year. Ri­ley Green won new male artist. Duo Dan + Shay won vo­cal duo of the year, their sec­ond win in that cat­e­gory in a row.

Underwood sang a tribute to iconic fe­male Opry mem­bers, in­clud­ing Patsy Cline, Reba McEn­tire, Martina McBride, Bar­bara Man­drell, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Par­ton. She ef­fort­lessly breezed through 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,” said Underwood, who sang her heart out to a venue that flick­ered with lights where peo­ple should have been.


■ En­ter­tainer of the year: Thomas Rhett and Car­rie Underwood (tied)

■ Fe­male artist of the year: Maren Mor­ris ■ Male artist of the year: Luke

Combs ■ Duo of the year: Dan + Shay ■ Group of the year: Old Do­min­ion ■ New fe­male artist of the year:

Te­nille Townes ■ New male artist of the year: Ri­ley Green ■ Al­bum of the year: “What You See Is What You Get” – Luke Combs ■ Sin­gle of the year: “... Coun­try” – Blake Shel­ton ■ Song of the year: “One Man

Band” – Old Do­min­ion ■ Video of the year: “Re­mem­ber You Young” – Thomas Rhett

■ Song­writer of the year: Hil­lary


■ Mu­sic event of the year: “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” – Mi­randa Lambert feat. Maren Mor­ris, Ash­ley McBryde, Te­nille Townes, Caylee Ham­mack and Elle King

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