2020 CMA Awards: Maren Morris is the top winner; Luke Combs and Eric Church also win big

November 11, 2020

by Carla Hay

With three prizes, Maren Morris was the biggest winner at the 54th annual CMA Awards, which were presented at Nashville’s Music City Center on November 11, 2020. ABC had the U.S. telecast of the ceremony, which was hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker. Morris received the awards for Female Vocalist of the Year, while her hit “The Bones” was named Song of the Year and Single of the Year.

Other big winners were Eric Church (who was named Entertainer of the Year) and Luke Combs, who won the prizes for Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year (for “What You See Is What You Get”).

Miranda Lambert, who went into the ceremony with the most nominations (seven) and ended up winning one CMA Award: Music Video of the Year, for “Bluebird.” Other winners of the 2020 CMA Awards included Old Dominion (Vocal Group of the Year); Dan + Shay (Vocal Duo of the Year); ; Morgan Wallen (New Artist of the Year); and Carly Pearce and Lee Brice’s duet “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Musical Event of the Year). Charley Pride received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Performers at the ceremony included Jimmie Allen; Ingrid Andress; Kelsea Ballerini; Gabby Barrett featuring Charlie Puth; Brothers Osborne; Eric Church; Luke Combs; Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber; Lambert; Little Big Town; Ashley McBryde; McEntire with Rucker; Maren Morris; Old Dominion; Jon Pardi; Carly Pearce with Charles Kelley; Rucker; Chris Stapleton Keith Urban; and Morgan Wallen. In addition, Thomas Rhett, McEntire and Chris Tomlin teamed up for a performance.

Presenters included Lauren Akins, Lauren Alaina, Dierks Bentley, Bobby Bones, Charles Esten, Sara Evans, Taylor Hill, Jake Owen, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Cece Winans.

The 54th Annual CMA Awards was a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton was the executive producer. Alan Carter was the director, and David Wild was the head writer.  

The following is a complete list of winners and nominees for the 2020 CMA Awards:



Eric Church*
Luke Combs 
Miranda Lambert
Carrie Underwood 
Keith Urban

Award goes to artist(s), producer(s), and mix engineer

“10,000 Hours” – Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber) (Producer: Dan Smyers; Mix Engineer: Jeff Juliano)

“Beer Never Broke My Heart” – Luke Combs (Producer: Scott Moffatt; Mix Engineer: Jim Cooley)

“Bluebird” – Miranda Lambert Producer: Jay Joyce; Mix Engineers: Jason Hall, Jay Joyce)

“The Bones” – Maren Morris (Producer: Greg Kurstin; Mix Engineer: Greg Kurstin)*

“I Hope” – Gabby Barrett Producers: Ross Copperman, Zach Kale; Mix Engineer: Buckley Miller)

Award goes to artist and producer(s)

“Heartache Medication” – Jon Pardi (Producers: Bart Butler, Ryan Gore, Jon Pardi)

“Never Will” – Ashley McBryde (Producers: Jay Joyce, John Peets)

“Old Dominion” – Old Dominion (Producers: Shane McAnally, Old Dominion)

“What You See Is What You Get” – Luke Combs (Producer: Scott Moffatt)*

“Wildcard” – Miranda Lambert (Producer: Jay Joyce)

Award goes to songwriters

“Bluebird” (Songwriters: Luke Dick, Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert)

“The Bones” (Songwriters: Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz)*

“Even Though I’m Leaving” (Songwriters: Luke Combs, Wyatt B. Durrette III, Ray Fulcher)

“I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Songwriters: Luke Combs, Randy Montana, Carly Pearce, Jonathan Singleton)

“More Hearts Than Mine” (Songwriters: Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis, Derrick Southerland)


Miranda Lambert
Ashley McBryde 
Maren Morris*
Kacey Musgraves 
Carrie Underwood


Eric Church
Luke Combs*
Thomas Rhett 
Chris Stapleton 
Keith Urban


Lady A
Little Big Town 
Old Dominion*
Rascal Flatts


Brooks & Dunn 
Brothers Osborne 
Dan + Shay*
Florida Georgia Line 
Maddie & Tae

Award goes to artists and producer(s)

“10,000 Hours” – Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber (Producer: Dan Smyers)

“Be A Light” – Thomas Rhett featuring Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, Keith Urban (Producer: Dann Huff)

“The Bones” – Maren Morris with Hozier (Producer: Greg Kurstin)

“Fooled Around And Fell In Love” – Miranda Lambert feat. Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes & Caylee Hammack (Producer: Jay Joyce)

“I Hope You’re Happy Now” – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice (Producer: Busbee)*


Jenee Fleenor, Fiddle*
Paul Franklin, Steel Guitar
Rob McNelley, Guitar
Ilya Toshinskiy, Guitar
Derek Wells, Guitar

Award goes to artist(s) and director

“10,000 Hours” – Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber (Director: Patrick Tracy)

“Bluebird” – Miranda Lambert (Director: Trey Fanjoy)*

“Homemade” –Jake Owen (Director: Justin Clough)

“I Hope You’re Happy Now” – Carly Pearce and Lee Brice (Director: Sam Siske)

“Second One To Know” – Chris Stapleton (Director: David Coleman)


Jimmie Allen 
Ingrid Andress 
Gabby Barrett 
Carly Pearce 
Morgan Wallen*


“American Country Countdown” (Kix Brooks) – Westwood One
“The Blair Garner Show” (Blair Garner and “Off Eric” Garner) – Westwood One
“CMT After Midnite” (Cody Alan) – Premiere Networks
“Country Countdown USA” (Lon Helton) – Westwood One*
“The Mayor of Music Row” (Charlie Monk) – Sirius XM Satellite Radio

Major Market

“Angie Ward” – WUBL, Atlanta, Ga. 
“Chris Carr & Company” (Chris Carr, Kia Becht, and McKaila Granning) – KEEY, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.*
“Double-L” (Lois Lewis) – KNIX, Phoenix, Ariz. 
“Fitz in the Morning” (Cory Fitzner) – KNUC, Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. 
“Paul Schadt & Sarah Lee in the Morning with Producer Geof” (Paul Schadt, Sarah Lee and Geof Knight) – WKKT, Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, N.C.-S.C.

Large Market

“The Big Dave Show (“Big Dave” Chandler, Chelsie Shinkle, Jason Statt and Ashley Hempfling) – WUBE, Cincinnati, Ohio*
“Jim, Deb & Kevin” (Jim Denny, Deborah Honeycutt and Kevin Freeman) – WFMS, Indianapolis, Ind. 
“Lexi & Banks” (“Lexi” Elena Abatgis and “Banks” Jared Danielson) – KUBL, Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo, Utah
“Obie & Ashley” (“Obie” Obed Diaz and Ashley Morrison) – WWKA, Orlando, Fla. 
“Ridder, Scott and Shannen” (“Ridder” Shaun Ridderbush, Scott Dolphin, and Shannen Oesterreich) – WMIL, Milwaukee-Racine, Wis.

Medium Market

“Brent Michaels” – KUZZ, Bakersfield, Calif. 
“Clay & Company” (Clay Moden, Rob Banks, and Val Townsend) – WYRK, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.*
“Kenn McCloud” – KUZZ, Bakersfield, Calif. 
“Scott and Sarah in the Morning” (Scott Wynn and Sarah Kay) – WQMX, Akron, Ohio
“Steve & Gina In The Morning” (Steve Lundy and Gina Melton) – KXKT, Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.- Iowa

Small Market

“Big Rick In The Morning” (“Big Rick” Daniels) – WGGC, Bowling Green, Ky.
“Bobby & Steve (and Mandi!)” (Bobby Cook, Steve Schwetman and Mandi Turner) – WKYQ, Paducah, Ky. 
“Brent and Candy – The Cat Pak Morning Show” (Brent Lane and Candy Cullerton) – WYCT, Pensacola, Fla. 
“Officer Don & DeAnn” (“Officer Don” Evans and DeAnn Stephens) – WBUL, Lexington-Fayette, Ky.*
“Steve And Jessica Mornings” (Steve Waters and Jessica Cash) – WFLS, Fredericksburg, Va.


Major Market

KNUC – Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.
KSCS – Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas*
KYGO – Denver-Boulder, Colo. 
WXTU – Philadelphia, Pa. 
WYCD – Detroit, Mich. 

Large Market

KNCI – Sacramento, Calif.*
KUBL – Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo, Utah
WMIL – Milwaukee-Racine, Wis. 
WUBE – Cincinnati, Ohio
WWKA – Orlando, Fla. 

Medium Market

KATM – Modesto, Calif. 
WHKO – Dayton, Ohio 
WQMX – Akron, Ohio
WUSY – Chattanooga, Tenn.*
WXCY – Wilmington, Del.

Small Market

KKNU – Eugene-Springfield, Ore.
WBYT – South Bend, Ind.
WKXC – Augusta, Ga.*
WXBQ – Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.
WXFL – Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala.

ACM Presents: Our Country special to air in former ACM Awards time slot will include at-home acoustic performance, Kenny Rogers tribute

March 26, 2020

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood  (Photo courtesy of ABC/Image Group LA)

The following is a press release from the Academy of Country Music and Dick Clark Productions:

The Academy of Country Music® and Dick Clark Productions announced today the all-star lineup of performers for ACM® Presents: Our Country, a two-hour special featuring intimate conversations and at-home acoustic performances with Country Music’s biggest stars, along with clips from the Academy of Country Music Awards’™ 55-year history. Confirmed performers include Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown & John Legend, Luke Bryan, Brandi Carlile, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Sheryl Crow, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Old Dominion, Brad Paisley & Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton & Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban. The special will be broadcast Sunday, April 5 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT and 7:00 PM CT) on the CBS Television Network and on CBS All Access.

ACM® Presents: Our Country will also honor 10-time ACM Award® winner Kenny Rogers with performances by Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker. As previously announced, artists will appear from their homes to share heartfelt thoughts and perform acoustic versions of Country hits. Additionally, video clips from previous ACM Award broadcasts will highlight favorite ACM moments from the past. It will be a night filled with entertainment, hope and reflection, bringing the healing power of music to Americans at a time when they need it most.

The special will broadcast during the time slot previously scheduled for the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards, which will now be broadcast Wednesday, Sept. 16 (live 8:00-11:00 PM ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network and streaming live and on demand on CBS All Access. The 55th ACM Awards, hosted for the first time by reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year and 15-time ACM Award winner Keith Urban, honors the biggest names and emerging talent in the Country Music industry.

For more information, visit ACMcountry.com. You can also like Academy of Country Music on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @ACMawards, follow on Instagram at @ACMawards and sign up for the FREE ACM A-List for more immediate updates.

ACM® Presents: Our Country invites fans to join their favorite superstars for a new kind of entertainment special featuring at-home acoustic performances with top Country artists along with clips of their favorite moments from the Academy of Country Music Awards’™ 55-year history.  is produced for television by Dick Clark Productions. R.A. Clark, Barry Adelman, Mark Bracco and Amy Thurlow are executive producers. Damon Whiteside is executive producer for the Academy of Country Music®.

2018 ACM Honors: Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Matraca Berg, Darius Rucker among prize winners

August 22, 2018

Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM)

The following is a press release from the Academy of Country Music:

The Academy of Country Music® presented the 12th Annual ACM Honors™, an evening dedicated to recognizing the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards™.

The event, presented in partnership with City National Bank, featured a star-studded lineup of live performances and award presentations celebrating Special Awards recipients Dierks Bentley (ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award), Matraca Berg (ACM Poet’s Award), Sam Hunt (ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award), Alan Jackson (ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award), Darius Rucker (ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award), Mickey & Chris Christensen and Eddie Miller (ACM Mae Boren Axton Service Award, all awarded posthumously), Rob Potts (ACM Jim Reeves International Award, awarded posthumously) and Norro Wilson (ACM Poet’s Award, awarded posthumously)The evening also honored winners of the Industry and Studio Recording Awards, along with Songwriter of the Year Award winner, Rhett Akins.

Highlights from the event include:

  • Hosts Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi opened the evening with a performance of Alan Jackson’s “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”
  • Joe Diffie performed “The Grand Tour” in tribute to the late Norro Wilson. Wilson’s children Christy Wilson Myers and David Wilson accepted the award on their father’s behalf.
  • Kassi Ashton performed “Body Like a Backroad” in tribute to Sam Hunt before Bobby Bones presented Hunt with his award.
  • CAM performed Buck Owens’ “Cryin’ Time” in tribute to Mickey & Chris Christensen and Eddie Miller. Mickey and Chris’ son Chris Christensenalong with Eddie Miller’s daughters, Bobbie HedrickGarneta Johnston and Pam Miller, accepted the award on behalf of their parents.
  • Morgan Evans performed his song, “Things That We Drink To” in tribute to Rob Potts. Potts’ son Jeremy Dylan accepted the award, presented by Storme Warren, on his behalf.
  • Old Crow Medicine Show performed “Wagon Wheel” in tribute to Darius Rucker, before Kip Moore presented Rucker with his award.
  • Dallas Davidson, Ben Hayslip and Dustin Lynch performed a medley of “Huntin’ Fishin’ and Lovin’ Everyday,” “Small Town Boy,” and “I Lived It” in tribute to Rhett Akins before the presentation of his award.
  • Jon Pardi performed “I Hold On” in tribute to Dierks Bentley, who received his award from Ricky Skaggs.
  • Lauren Alaina, Deana Carter and Ashley McBryde performed a medley of “You & Tequila,” “Wrong Side of Memphis” and “Strawberry Wine” before presenting Matraca Berg with her award.
  • Chris Stapleton ended the night with a performance of “Here in the Real World” in tribute to Alan Jackson before co-hosts Pardi and Alainapresented Jackson’s oldest daughter, Mattie Jackson Selecman with his award. Selecman accepted the award on behalf of Jackson who is still recovering from a respiratory infection.  She shared how honored her father is to receive this award that was also bestowed upon so many of his musical heroes.
  • Jordan Davis presented the ACM Industry Awards.
  • Lindsay Ell presented the ACM Studio Recording Awards.

Below is a full list of special award recipients:


ACM Cliffie Stone ICON Award – Alan Jackson will receive the Cliffie Stone Icon Award. This award is presented to a country music artist, duo/group or industry leader who throughout their career has advanced the popularity of the genre through their contributions in multiple facets of the industry such as songwriting, recording, production, touring, film, television, literary works, philanthropic contributions and other goodwill efforts.

Alan Jackson has kept it country for his entire career. He earned his first Top 10 hit with the poignant single “Here in the Real World,” which helped him win the 1990 ACM Top Male Vocalist trophy. That initial victory led to Single of the Year awards for “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” (1991), “Chattahoochee” (1993), “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” (2001) and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” (2003). “Where Were You…” was also an ACM Song of the Year, earning Jackson trophies as both the composer and recording artist. Don’t Rock the JukeboxA Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ‘Bout Love) and Drive also earned ACM Album of the Year honors. A native of Newnan, Georgia, Jackson joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1991 and has gone on to sell nearly 60 million records. He accepted the ACM Male Vocalist award for 1994, 1995 and 2001. His 35 enduring No. 1 hits include such titles as “Where I Come From,” “Remember When” and “Gone Country.” Additional ACM honors include Vocal Event trophies for “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” with Jimmy Buffett and “As She’s Walking Away” with Zac Brown Band…and Video of the Year honors for “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” and as part of “Forever Country” in 2016. He was a recipient of the Academy’s 40th Anniversary Milestone Award in 2005 and of the Jim Reeves International Award in 2011. Over the years, his music and performing have earned him over 60 ACM Award nominations. One of country music’s finest songwriters, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017 and will become a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame this summer.

Past recipients of the ACM Cliffie Icon Award include AlabamaBob Beckham, Garth BrooksGlen Campbell, Johnny CashCharlie DanielsLarry Gatlin & The Gatlin BrothersCrystal Gayle, Merle Haggard, Emmylou HarrisGeorge Jones, The Judds,  Brenda LeeLoretta LynnWillie NelsonThe Oak Ridge BoysDolly PartonCharley PrideJerry ReedTex RitterMarty RobbinsKenny RogersBilly SherrillRicky SkaggsThe Statler Brothers, George Strait, Mel TillisRandy TravisTanya Tucker, Conway TwittyPorter WagonerKeith Whitley, Hank WilliamsHank Williams Jr.Bob Wills and Dwight Yoakam, among others.


ACM GARY HABER LIFTING LIVES AWARD –  Darius Rucker has been chosen to receive the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award. This award is presented to a country music artist, duo/group or industry professional who is devoted to improving lives through the power of music, has a generosity of spirit, and is committed to serving others, voted on by the ACM Lifting Lives Board of Directors.

From his days as a multi-platinum pop star to a decade as a hit-making, Grammy-winning country artist, Darius Rucker has given his time and talent to support many charitable causes, most especially those that benefit children and education. To date, he has raised more than $1 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the “Darius & Friends” all-star concerts and tournaments – blending his two loves of music and golf. In his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, Rucker serves on the board of the Charleston Children’s Hospital and, for 15 years running, has staged the “Homegrown Concert” to raise money to buy school supplies and other necessities for local public-school children. Long a big supporter of ACM Lifting Lives, Rucker has given his time to ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp, the Lifting Lives Golf Classic and a recent Lifting Lives Omaze campaign — where he personally hosted the winners backstage at the 53rd ACM Awards. In addition, the affable star has used his talent to raise money and awareness for Pattinson’s Academy, PGA Tour Charities, Nashville’s Oasis Center, Musicians on Call, Military Warrior Support Foundation and the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, just to name a few.

Past recipients of the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award include Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood.


ACM GENE WEED MILESTONE AWARD – Sam Hunt has been chosen as the recipient of the Gene Weed Milestone Award. This award is presented to a country music artist, duo/group or industry leader for a specific, unprecedented or outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the preceding calendar year.

Sam Hunt’s single “Body Like a Back Road” was a streaming juggernaut in 2017, breaking and re-setting the genre’s one-week streaming record 14 times during the year. The song set the one-year country streaming mark only six weeks after release (March 16) and was the fastest country song to earn 100m streams in history (12 weeks). Its streaming success is in addition to being the year’s most downloaded country song (iTunes) and the most-heard song on country radio (Country Aircheck/Mediabase and Billboard), while spending a record 34 weeks atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Past recipients of the Gene Weed Milestone Award include Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, George Burns, Kenny Chesney, Jeff Foxworthy, Merle Haggard, Gayle Holcomb, Loretta Lynn, Little Big Town, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood.


ACM Mae Boren Axton SERVICE Award – Mickey Christensen, Chris Christensen and Eddie Miller (all awarded posthumously) have been chosen as the recipients of the Mae Boren Axton Service Award. This award is presented to an outstanding country music artist, duo/group or industry leader in recognition of years of dedication and service to the Academy of Country Music.

Nightclub owners Mickey and Chris Christensen and performing songwriter Eddie Miller, along with Country & Western performer Tommy Wiggins, co-founded the organization that became known as the Academy of Country Music. In 1964 they created the Country and Western Music Academy to promote West Coast country artists. Chris Christensen and his wife Mickey moved from Iowa to Long Beach, California, in 1941. In time, Chris acquired a stake in a jukebox company while Mickey owned and operated venues like Pike’s Canteen, C&M Corral and the Red Barrel Niteclub. Two of the first musicians they hired were Buck and Bonnie Owens. West Coast entertainers started dropping by the Red Barrel, including Eddie Miller and Tommy Wiggins. A conversation led to an idea to emulate the Oscars and create an awards show. The earliest banquets took place at the Red Barrel before the first official ceremony was held at The Hollywood Palladium on February 28, 1966. An Oklahoma native and former railroad worker, Miller wrote country hits like “Release Me,” (Ray Price, Kitty Wells), “I Love You Honey” (Patsy Cline), “There She Goes” (Carl Smith) and “Thanks a Lot” (Ernest Tubb). He was a co-founder of the Nashville Songwriters Association, which developed into NSAI. [Surviving ACM founder Tommy Wiggins received this award at the 2013 ACM Honors.]

Past recipients of the ACM Mae Boren Axton Award include Barry Adelman, John DorrisTim DuBois, Rod EssigGayle HolcombBob Kingsley, Jack LameierReba McEntire, Marge MeoliPaul MooreRay PilzakGaynelle PittsKeith Urban, Gene WeedTommy Wiggins and David Young.


ACM JIM REEVES INTERNATIONAL AWARD – Rob Potts (awarded posthumously) has been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an artist or industry leader for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.

Rob Potts cultivated a country music connection between Australia and the United States, paving the way for American superstars to perform Down Under for thousands of new fans. Potts and his business partner Michael Chugg established the brand of CMC Rocks leading to festivals like CMC Rocks the Snowy, CMC Rocks the Hunter and CMC Rocks QLD. The latter became the first-ever sold-out country music festival in Australia, with 18,000 tickets sold for its 2018 lineup featuring Luke Bryan. Potts had worked as a booking agent for artists like Keith Urban, Tommy Emmanuel and Lee Kernaghan. He brought country talent like Jason Aldean, Brooks & Dunn, Dixie Chicks, Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift and Zac Brown Band to the Australian market. In addition, Potts managed Warner Music Nashville artist Morgan Evans. In 2016, Potts launched FanGate Music, a joint label with Sony Music Entertainment Australia, in order to seek out and develop international country artists while still paying attention to emerging local talent. A partnership with Nashville-based Dreamlined Entertainment was announced in October 2017, less than two weeks before Potts died following a motorcycle accident in Australia. He was 65.

Past recipients of the Jim Reeves International Award include Joe Allison, Bill Boyd, Garth Brooks, Steve Buchanan, Joe Cates, Eric Church, Dick Clark, Roy Clark, Al Gallico, Merv Griffin, Jim Halsey, Alan Jackson, Ken Kragen, Lady Antebellum, Sam Louvello, Thurston Moore, Charlie Nagatani, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Rascal Flatts, Roy Rogers, Bob Saporiti, Louise Scruggs, Dinah Shore, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Jeff Walker, Jo Walker-Meador and Bill Ward.


ACM MERLE HAGGARD SPIRIT AWARD – Dierks Bentley has been chosen to receive the Merle Haggard Spirit Award. This award is presented to a singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy of country legend and 20-time ACM Award Winner Merle Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs and epitomizing Merle’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.

Across eight albums and more than 20 Top 10 singles, Dierks Bentley has proven to be a songwriter, vocalist, musician and recording artist intent on carving his own path. Balancing a hit-making sensibility with an unyielding sense of self, he’s offered wide-ranging artistry since his 2003 debut. From smoldering (“Come A Little Closer,” “Black”) and thoughtful (“Home,” “Different For Girls,” “Woman, Amen”) to wandering (“Free And Easy,” “Every Mile A Memory”) and pure fun (“Sideways,” “5-1-5-0”), Bentley has never been afraid to let the music lead. This trait was most evident on his 2010 bluegrass album Up On The Ridge, a risky career move that paid dividends in re-centering his creativity and, ultimately, leading to even greater success. The Academy’s 2003 Top New Artist earned Video of the Year in 2014 (“Drunk On A Plane”) and hosted the ACM Awards show in 2016 and 2017. An Arizona native, Bentley broke with Nashville convention, heading west to write and record his upcoming album The Mountain in Colorado.

Past recipients of the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award include Eric Church and Miranda Lambert.


ACM Poet’s Award – Matraca Berg and Norro Wilson (awarded posthumously) have been chosen to receive the Poet’s Award. This award is presented to a country music songwriter for outstanding and longstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career, with special consideration given to a song or songs’ impact on the culture of country music.

Matraca Berg has written major country hits across four consecutive decades while maintaining the reputation as one of Nashville’s most eloquent songwriters. A Nashville native, Berg and co-writer Bobby Braddock scored a No. 1 hit in 1983 with “Faking Love” by T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks. Berg was just 18 at the time. Four years later, Reba McEntire recorded “The Last One to Know” as the title track to her 1987 album; again, Berg notched a No. 1 single. Throughout the 1990s, Berg secured plentiful cuts from country music’s top female artists. Trisha Yearwood solidified her stardom with “Wrong Side of Memphis,” “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl),” and “Everybody Knows,” while Patty Loveless boosted her career with “I’m That Kind of Girl” and “You Can Feel Bad.” Berg secured an ACM Song of the Year nomination for Deana Carter’s exquisite “Strawberry Wine.” Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter released their rendition of “You and Tequila” in 2011, leading to another ACM Song of the Year nod. She has written singles for Suzy Bogguss, Dixie Chicks, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Linda Ronstadt, Gretchen Wilson and more. Berg was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008.

Norro Wilson worked in nearly every facet of the Nashville music industry, earning perhaps his greatest acclaim by composing classics for George Jones, Charlie Rich and Tammy Wynette. Wilson grew up in Kentucky and moved to Nashville as a teenager after joining a gospel group. He spent much of the next decade pursuing a performing career until a song he co-wrote, “Baby, Baby (I Know You’re a Lady),” hit No. 1 for David Houston in 1970. Wilson’s songwriting catalog grew to include Jones signatures like “A Picture of Me (Without You),” “The Grand Tour” and “The Door.” Wilson co-wrote three of Rich’s No. 1 hits: “The Most Beautiful Girl,” “A Very Special Love Song,” and “I Love My Friend.” Wynette found success with Wilson compositions such as “I’ll See Him Through,” “He Loves Me All the Way,” “My Man” and “Another Lonely Song.” In addition, Charley Pride secured No. 1 hits in the early 1980s with “Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)” and “Night Games.” In other roles, Wilson signed Keith Whitley to RCA and co-produced several Kenny Chesney albums. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996. Wilson passed away in 2017.

Previous recipients of the ACM Poet’s Award include Bill AndersonBobby BraddockFelice and Boudleaux Bryant, Guy ClarkJack ClementHank CochranDean DillonMerle HaggardTom T. HallHarlan HowardToby Keith, Kris KristoffersonBob McDill, Roger MillerWillie Nelson, Buck OwensEddie Rabbitt, Fred RoseShel Silverstein, Don SchlitzCindy Walker, Jimmy Webb and Hank Williams.


ACM SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD – Previously announced winner Rhett Akins has been chosen as the recipient of the Songwriter of the Year Award. This award is presented to an individual known predominately as a songwriter, selected by a Professional Panel of judges composed of songwriters, publishers, producers, and performing rights organization representatives.

Rhett Akins landed on the ACM Awards ballot 20 years ago in the New Male Vocalist category, thanks to hit singles like “That Ain’t My Truck” and “Don’t Get Me Started.” Now, two decades later, he is one of Nashville’s most prominent songwriters. A list of Akins’ recent hits reads like a “who’s who” of country music, including Dustin Lynch’s “Small Town Boy,” Jon Pardi’s “Dirt on My Boots,” Blake Shelton’s “I Lived It” and Akins’ son Thomas Rhett’s “Star of the Show” and “Life Changes.” Luke Bryan’s “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” Jason Aldean’s “When She Says Baby” and Shelton’s “Honeybee” and “Boys Round Here” have all been country radio staples. Akins has placed at least one song on Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart every week for the past 8 years, and he has been recognized as BMI Country Songwriter of the Year twice. Growing up in Valdosta, Georgia, Akins admired rugged country artists like Waylon Jennings, Charlie Daniels and Hank Williams, Jr. He moved to Nashville in 1992, earned a publishing deal and started singing demos. A record deal in 1994 led to two albums on Decca and one on MCA Nashville. Akins has released three independent solo albums, and, with fellow Georgia natives Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip, he is a member of The Peach Pickers – a tried-and-true songwriting collaboration that has yielded countless cuts. This is his third nomination for ACM Songwriter of the Year.

Past recipients of the ACM Songwriter of the Year Award include Ross Copperman, Dallas Davidson, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Lori McKenna andRoger Miller.



  • NIGHTCLUB OF THE YEAR: Cotton Eyed ­Joe ­– Knoxville, TN
  • CASINO OF THE YEAR – SMALL CAPACITY: The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino – Las Vegas, NV
  • CASINO OF THE YEAR – MEDIUM CAPACITY: MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, NV
  • VENUE OF THE YEAR – SMALL CAPACITY: The Georgia Theatre – Athens, GA
  • VENUE OF THE YEAR – MEDIUM CAPACITY: The Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
  • VENUE OF THE YEAR – LARGE CAPACITY: Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA
  • FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR: Country Thunder – Florence, AZ
  • DON ROMEO TALENT BUYER OF THE YEAR: R. J. Romeo – Romeo Entertainment Group
  • PROMOTER OF THE YEAR – Brian O’Connell – Live Nation



  • BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Jimmie Lee Sloas
  • DRUMMER OF THE YEAR – Fred Eltringham

2018 CMT Music Awards: Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line and more artists added to lineup

May 31, 2018

CMT Music Awards

The following are excerpts from CMT press releases:

Hosted by country chart-toppers Little Big Town, the “2018 CMT Music Awards” today announced the second round of A-list performers that will take over Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 6th at 8 pm ET/ PT. The newest superstars to join the already-impressive performance lineup include Backstreet BoysCarrie UnderwoodDan + ShayFlorida Georgia LineJason Aldean and hosts Little Big Town. Tickets for the “2018 CMT Music Awards” are on sale now via Ticketmaster.

CMT also revealed today that country music’s loudest night is about to get even louder with two star-studded collaborations; country icon Dierks Bentley featuring “Video of the Year” nominees Brothers Osborne, as well as “CMT Performance of the Year” nominee Darius Rucker featuring Jason Aldean (who is tied for most “CMT Music Awards” nominations), Luke Bryan and Charles Kelley. More performers to be announced in the coming days.

Last week, the first round of “2018 CMT Music Awards” performers were announced including Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt. It was also revealed that pop superstar Kelly Clarkson will premiere her rendition of iconic rock hit, “American Woman,” from the promotional campaign for the upcoming Paramount Network series of the same title debuting the day after the Awards on Thursday, June 7 at 10pm ET/PT. Inspired by the real-life upbringing of Kyle Richards (“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”), “American Woman” follows Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone), an unconventional mother struggling to raise her two daughters after leaving her husband with the help of her two best friends, Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels) in 1970s Los Angeles.

Fans can vote for their favorite artists now via CMT.com until Monday, June 4th for categories including “Video of the Year,” “Male Video of the Year,” “Female Video of the Year,”, “Duo Video of the Year,” “Group Video of the Year,” “Breakthrough Video of the Year,” “Collaborative Video of the Year” and “CMT Performance of the Year.”

Country music’s hottest breakthrough artists Carly Pearce, Devin Dawson, LANCO, Lindsay Ell, Russell Dickerson and Walker Hayeswill perform on the Ram Trucks Side Stage.

From the group of fresh talent, first-time nominees Carly Pearce, Devin Dawson, LANCO, Russell Dickerson and Walker Hayes will all be vying for the title of “Breakthrough Video of the Year.” Platinum-selling band LANCO will also be up for “Group Video of the Year” and Carly Pearce will battle it out for the coveted title of “Female Video of the Year” with her No. 1 hit “Every Little Thing.”

This announcement follows renewed ratings growth and critical acclaim for CMT music specials and events due in part to a creative refresh featuring current and genre-bending artist pairings and pro-social elements. In October, “CMT Artists of the Year” notched its highest rating to date and now ranks as one of the fastest growing award shows, while “CMT Crossroads” recently garnered its highest ratings in five years with an episode featuring Backstreet Boys and Florida Georgia Line. The network recently finished its highest-rated quarter since 2014 and notched its fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year ratings growth. April 2018 was CMT’s best April performance in 4 years, extending to 17 the channel’s streak of consecutive months of year-over-year ratings growth among Adults 18-49 and Women 18-49. (L+SD, CMT Total Day)

Follow @CMT on Twitter and Instagram, use hashtag #CMTawards and like the CMT Music Awards on Facebook.




Location:        Cumberland Park (592 S. 1st Street, Nashville, TN 37213)

CMT and the PEDIGREE brand are teaming up for the first “Paws & Play” Music Festival in Nashville on Sunday, June 3. The free event is the official kickoff to “CMT Music Awards” week and celebrates the role four-legged family members play in making lives better. Dogs (and their humans) can participate in a number of family-friendly events, including performances by country singer/songwriter, The Voice champion and CMT Music Award winner Cassadee Pope, doggie yoga, canine massage, games, photo opps, food trucks, a beer and wine garden and much more. The event is hosted in association with adoption partner, Nashville Humane Association, who will feature adoptable dogs onsite looking for fur-ever homes. No RSVP necessary.

*Performances by CassadeePope are at 2:00 and 3:30 p.m.



Location:        TopGolf Nashville (500 Cowan Street, Nashville, TN 37207)

RSVP:            http://eepurl.com/dvGZsD

Get up close and personal with Nashville’s hottest rising country stars at this exclusive CMT concert            at the city’s newest hangout, TopGolf. Scheduled to perform are Devin Dawson, Walker Hayes and LANCO. Must RSVP to attend. Event is 18 and up.



Location:        Schermerhorn Symphony Center Plaza (1 Symphony Pl, Nashville, TN 37201)

Bar-S and CMT invite you to kick off the summer with the ultimate downtown block party, featuring live music and free food for the whole family. Festivities include performances and meet-and-greets with artists Bailey Bryan, Kelleigh Bannen and The Sisterhood Band, along with carnival games, prizes and a chance to win tickets to the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night.

Performances are as follows:

  • 12:15 p.m.                 Bailey Bryan
  • 1:45 p.m.                    Kelleigh Bannen
  • 3:15 p.m.                    The  Sisterhood Band


8:30 p.m.       CMT CROSSROADS taping with Leon Bridges and Luke Combs

Location:        5th & Broadway (outdoor stage) – fans are encouraged to arrive early. Gates will open at 7:00 p.m., first-come, first-served, standing room only.

CMT’s iconic music franchise takes over the streets of downtown Nashville with a one-of-a-kind pairing featuring Leon Bridges and Luke Combs.




Location:        Schermerhorn Symphony Center Plaza (1 Symphony Pl, Nashville, TN 37201)

RSVP:            https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cmt-sweat-featuring-barrys-bootcamp-tickets-46157271642

Get down before the world gets up! A one-of-a-kind morning workout event, CMT Sweat is the can’t-miss kickoff to the CMT Music Awards, powered by Barry’s Bootcamp. Join some of Barry’s top national trainers for an early-morning workout, and enjoy a performance by singer/songwriter Kalie Shorr, music curated by DJ Ivy, appearance by Danielle Bradbery and other surprise guests as they turn your early morning into the ultimate calorie-shredding exercise session. Must RSVP to attend.



Location:        Schermerhorn Symphony Center Plaza (1 Symphony Pl, Nashville, TN 37201)

Bar-S and CMT invite you to kick off the summer with the ultimate downtown block party, featuring live music and free food for the whole family. Festivities include performances and meet-and-greets with artists Carly Pearce, Morgan Evans, Tyler Rich and Delta Rae, along with carnival games, prizes and a chance to win tickets to the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night.

Performances are as follows:

  • 12:00 p.m.                 Carly Pearce
  • 1:00 p.m.                    Morgan Evans
  • 2:15 p.m.                    Tyler Rich
  • 3:30 p.m.                    Delta Rae



Location:        Bridgestone Plaza (501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203)

CMT and Hershey’s are throwing a free karaoke party all day long from the heart of downtown Nashville. Fans are invited to hop on the karaoke RV, grab a mic and belt out Country Gold hits. Enjoy free Hershey’s Gold, a digital photo booth and certified gold prizes, including a chance to attend the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night.

Events are free and open to the public. Some events require advance registration. RSVP links included above.


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