FILE - In a Jan. 23, 2020 file photo, Taylor Swift attends the premiere of “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” at the Eccles Theater during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Swift is coming back to her roots with a performance at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards. The nine-time ACM award winner will perform from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, where the awards show will be broadcast Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 on CBS. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - In a Jan. 23, 2020 file photo, Taylor Swift attends the premiere of “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” at the Eccles Theater during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Swift is coming back to her roots with a performance at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards. The nine-time ACM award winner will perform from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, where the awards show will be broadcast Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 on CBS. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Country’s night to party sobers up amid pandemic

Academy of Country Music Awards airs tonight

NASHVILLE — In a pre-pandemic world, the Academy of Country Music Awards advertised itself as country music’s night to party with gambling, after-parties and a Las Vegas-style attitude.

This year the red carpet, crowds and gambling are all replaced with COVID-19 tests, temperature checks and face masks. The awards show was delayed five months due to the pandemic and moved to Nashville, and the tone for Wednesday’s show airing on CBS will be much more serious than in years past.

“We’re celebrating but we’re not partying,” said R.A. Clark, longtime executive producer of the show.

The show will feature performances by Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton with Gwen Stefani and many more, but it’s being rebranded this year as a “night of heart and hits” that will also reflect how hard the pandemic has hit many people this year, especially in the music industry.

Trisha Yearwood will perform a memorial tribute performance that will likely include Kenny Rogers, Joe Diffie, Charlie Daniels and John Prine, who all died in 2020. Country singer Mickey Guyton’s performance of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” will highlight food insecurity. The ACMs will also showcase their charity contributions to unemployed workers in the music industry.

Leading nominees include Dan + Shay, Old Dominion and Maren Morris, and all eyes will be on the entertainer of the year category. Carrie Underwood, who won the category in 2008 and 2009, seems a likely frontrunner against Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett after many feel she was overdue for an entertainer of the year win at the other major country awards show, the CMA Awards, last November.

Swift, who makes her first return to the ACM stage in seven years, was the last female artist to win ACM entertainer of the year in 2011. Bryan, who has also won entertainer of the year twice, said Underwood has risen to the qualifications.

“I certainly believe that she’s been an entertainer of all entertainers and brought so much grace and class and elegance to country music,” said Bryan.

Combs, who earned his first entertainer of the year nomination this year after winning new male artist of the year last year, could prove to be an upset after amassing incredible streaming numbers with his first two records and hitting the top of Billboard’s country radio chart for nine consecutive singles. All five entertainer of the year nominees will open the show with a special medley, which Combs is hoping he doesn’t mess up alongside the other seasoned performers.

“I don’t want to be the guy that shows up and is like, ‘Oops! Guess that guy’s not the entertainer of the year,’” said Combs with a laugh.

The eligibility period for this year’s show was calendar year 2019 and voting ended before the pandemic hit, so the awards being handed out this late in the year may sound a little older than what is currently trending in country music.

Miranda Lambert, already the most awarded artist in ACM history with over 30 wins, looks to extend her five-time win streak in the album of the year category with her record “Wildcard.” But the crossover success of Maren Morris’s album “GIRL” is also likely appeal to voters this year.

Grammy winners Dan + Shay have a chance to bring home an ACM award for pop star Justin Bieber in the song of the year category for “10,000 Hours.”

Reigning entertainer of the year Keith Urban takes over show hosting duties this year and the show will be broadcast from three music venues, including the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe.

By The Associated Press

Music

Just Posted

RCMP looking for these two suspects
Police looking for suspects who stole truck in central Alberta

A Ford F350 was stolen out of Blackfalds on June 9. Two… Continue reading

An excavator is tearing up old parking lots at the Michener Centre north site. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Demolition gets underway at Michener Centre’s north site

Some people are nostaligic, but not everyone is sad to see it go

The Red Deer Indian Industrial school stood off Burnt Lake Trail and across the Red Deer River from Fort Normandeau. The residential school is known to have lost at least 70 students through illness, poor sanitation and nutrition. (Advocate file photo)
Some Indigenous leaders say SNC-Lavalin can’t make up to First Nations people with offer of help

Quebec company is connected to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould allegations

RCMP are looking for this 30-year-old missing woman.
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing woman

The Red Deer RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to locate… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) blocks a shot by Vegas Golden Knights left wing William Carrier (28) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday in Las Vegas. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Canadiens take 4-1 loss to Vegas Golden Knights in Stanley Cup semifinal opener

Golden Knights 4 Canadiens 1 (Las Vegas leads series 1-0) LAS VEGAS… Continue reading

Philadelphia 76ers' coach Doc Rivers yells to his players during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Young leads Hawks’ rally past Sixers with Embiid hurting

Hawks 103 76ers 100 ATLANTA — Trae Young overcame a cold start… Continue reading

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler pushes away Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Cariel Brooks during the second half of the 107th Grey Cup in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, November 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
CFL board of governors votes unanimously to start 2021 season in August after meeting

The CFL says professional football will return to Canada in August. The… Continue reading

Boston Red Sox's Rafael Devers looks toward teammates while celebrating after his winning RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Vlad Jr homers to tie it, Red Sox top Blue Jays in 9th, 2-1

BOSTON — Rafael Devers hit a line drive off the Green Monster… Continue reading

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the 'hockey hub' mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Experts divided on easing COVID-19 rules for fully vaccinated adults

As provinces accelerate their efforts to get their populations fully vaccinated against… Continue reading

In this artist's sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against man accused in London attack against Muslim family

A vehicle attack against a Muslim family in southwestern Ontario that left… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister, not shown, and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland joins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they participate in a virtual discussion from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals move to cut debate, force vote on bill to implement 2021 budget

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals’ sweeping budget bill is moving faster to… Continue reading

The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. A new study in England suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are extremely good at keeping people from ending up in the hospital with COVID-19, even after just one dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Pfizer, AstraZeneca preventing hospitalizations from Delta variant in Britain

OTTAWA — A new study in England suggests even just one dose… Continue reading

Most Read