The Academy of Country Music is doubling down on is message that country needs to be more welcoming to artists of color by booking four Black artists to perform on the 56th ACM Awards on April 18.
Mickey Guyton, who is set to co-host the show with Keith Urban, is performing, as are Kane Brown, whose Mixtape Vol. 1 is up for album of the year; Americana duo The War and Treaty; and gospel great CeCe Winans, who is expected to team with Carrie Underwood to perform “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” which they recorded for Underwood’s current gospel album, My Savior.
The War and Treaty, a husband-and-wife duo consisting of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount, was named emerging artist of the year at the Americana Music Honors & Awards in 2019.
As previously reported, a record four Black artists were nominated for ACM Awards this year — Guyton and Brown as well as two artists who were are not on the ACM’s “full superstar performance lineup” — Jimmie Allen and John Legend.
The other performers set to appear on the show are Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Brothers Osborne, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Ryan Hurd, Jack Ingram, Alan Jackson, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Carly Pearce, Jon Randall, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Urban, Underwood and Chris Young.
Notably absent from the performer lineup — though of course it’s not a surprise — is Morgan Wallen, whose Dangerous: The Double Album spent its first 10 weeks on the Billboard 200 at No. 1. The ACM made headlines in January when it barred Wallen from the nominations process and from appearing on the ACM telecast for one year for his use of the N-word.
This will be Brothers Osborne’s first performance on the show since T.J. Osborne came out as gay in February, a move that elicited widespread support in the country community.
The ACM Awards appear to be following the lead of the Grammy Awards, which also announced its “full performance lineup” in one fell swoop, rather than parceling it out piecemeal, as is the norm with award shows. (Despite their assurance that that was the complete lineup, the Grammys soon added Silk Sonic, the retro-soul project consisting of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak.) Time will tell if the ACMs also held back one or more names for a surprise.
For the second year in a row, the ACM Awards will be broadcast from three iconic Nashville venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.
In a joint statement, dick clark productions and the ACM stressed that COVID-19 concerns are paramount. “The health and safety of the artists, fans, industry, staff and partners involved in the ACM Awards is the number one priority. All guidelines set forth by national, state and local health officials will be closely followed and implemented during the production along with additional safety measures to be instated by dick clark productions and the Academy of Country Music.”
The Country Music Association experienced a nightmarish scenario in the aftermath of the 54th annual CMA Awards on Nov. 11. Country legend Charley Pride, who received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and performed at the show, died from COVID-19 on Dec. 12. It’s unknown when and how he contracted the virus, but it’s a tragedy no awards show wants to see happen again.
R.A. Clark, Barry Adelman and Linda Gierahn are executive producers of the ACM Awards. Damon Whiteside, CEO of the ACM, is executive producer for the ACM.
The show is set to air live on Sunday, April 18, from 8-11 p.m. (live ET/delayed PT) and from 7-10 p.m. Central Time on CBS. It will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
To promote the show, producers rounded up video of the first ACM Awards performances from many of the artists in this year’s lineup, including a very young-looking Dierks Bentley. It can be found here.