Academy of Country Music Awards, Music News, News

2021 ACM Awards Preview: What to Expect

The 56th Academy of Country Music Awards will broadcast live on Sunday, April 18th. This is the second year in a row the awards ceremony will take place in Nashville. It will broadcast live from three separate locations: the Ryman Auditorium, the Bluebird Cafe, and the Grand Ole Opry House.

In an effort to show gratitude to the medical community, the show will feature a small audience at both the Opry House and Ryman made up of fully vaccinated healthcare workers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. However, COVID-19 restrictions will be just as strict as they were last year.

Viewers can watch live on CBS from 8-11pm ET (delayed PT). It will also be available to stream live and on demand via Paramount+.

Host & Presenters:

Keith Urban will be hosting the ACM Awards for the second time in his career. He will be joined by co-host Mickey Guyton. Aside from hosting, Urban and Guyton will each take the stage for a performance as well.

Presenters include Dolly Parton, Darius Rucker, Ingrid Andress, Blanco Brown, Amy Grant, Martina McBride, Clay Walker, and actor and Instagram star Leslie Jordan.


Miranda Lambert and Elle King will open the ceremony with the live debut of their party song “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home).” As for other collaborations, Dierks Bentley and The War and Treaty will perform U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” at the Station Inn, and Kelsea Ballerini and Kenny Chesney will sing “Half of My Hometown.”

Carrie Underwood will offer a medley from her spiritual album My Savior. Brothers Osborne are set to perform “I’m Not for Everyone,” Dan + Shay will harmonize on “Glad You Exist,” and Chris Stapleton will sing “Maggie’s Song” from the Bluebird Cafe.

Other performers include Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd, Eric Church, CeCe Winans, Chris Young, Kane Brown, Alan Jackson, Ashley McBryde, Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Lee Brice, Luke Combs, Carly Pearce, Jon Randall, and Jack Ingram.

Luke Bryan, who is nominated for Album of the Year, was originally scheduled to perform but cannot attend the ceremony after testing positive for COVID-19. The trio Lady A is now taking his place. Little Big Town have also been affected by the pandemic: The quartet will now perform as a trio after member Phillip Sweet contracted COVID.


Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton are the top nominees at this year's awards. They are tied with six nominations each. Other top nominees include Miranda Lambert with five, and Ashley McBryde and Thomas Rhett with four each. First-time nominees include Tenille Arts, Travis Denning, John Legend, Pink, Gwen Stefani, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, who appears on Chris Stapleton’s album Starting Over.

All winners will be announced at the Opry House, although some artists will receive their awards remotely at other venues. “To keep it really safe, we’re rotating in the audience,” Damon Whiteside, CEO of the ACM and an executive producer of the awards show said. “So basically you’ll have each category come up, and the five nominees will be escorted into the Opry House. They’ll be masked and they’ll be socially distanced, and each artist will get one personal guest with them. Then as the winner’s revealed, that winner would go up onstage and the rest will be escorted safely out of the venue, back on their bus in the parking lot.”

Check out the nominees for some of the biggest awards below. You can view a full list of nominees here.

Entertainer Of The Year
Chris Stapleton
Eric Church
Luke Bryan
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett

Album Of The Year
Born Here Live Here Die Here - Luke Bryan
Mixtape Vol. 1 - Kane Brown
Never Will - Ashley McBryde
Skeletons - Brothers Osborne
Starting Over - Chris Stapleton

New Female Artist Of The Year
Gabby Barrett
Caylee Hammack
Ingrid Andress
Mickey Guyton
Tenille Arts

New Male Artist Of The Year
Jimmie Allen
Cody Johnson
Parker McCollum
Travis Denning

Single Of The Year
"Bluebird" - Miranda Lambert
"I Hope" - Gabby Barrett
"I Hope You're Happy Now" - Carly Pearce & Lee Brice
"More Hearts Than Mine" - Ingrid Andress
"The Bones" - Maren Morris

Song Of The Year
"Bluebird" - Miranda Lambert
"One Night Standards" - Ashley McBryde
"Some People Do" - Old Dominion
"Starting Over" - Chris Stapleton
"The Bones" - Maren Morris

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Article Image: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, and Jon Randall at the 2018 ACM Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Debby Wong via Shutterstock.)

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About Kathryn Milewski

  • New Jersey