Producers Preview 7 Don’t-Miss Moments Of Upcoming ACM Awards


The 51st Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards will bring the show back to Las Vegas’ MGM Grand on Sunday, April 3, following last year’s special 50th anniversary show in Dallas, Texas.

ACM Awards Executive Producers Barry Adelman and R.A. Clark, as well as ACM CEO Bob Romeo and Exec. VP, CBS Specials, Music, and Live Events Jack Sussman offered an inside look at some of Sunday’s don’t-miss moments during a media conference call today (March 29).

With the show to feature more than 20 performances on three stages (including five or six artists set to offer new music), this year’s lineup is ripe for some special ACM moments.

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

1. Dolly Parton and Katy Perry.

As previously announced, Parton will join Katy Perry for a collaboration of several of Parton’s classic songs, including “Jolene” and “Coat Of Many Colors.” For her 2015 television movie Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors, Parton will also be honored with the Tex Ritter Award.

Sussman said, “Katy Perry as well as her whole team have been fans of this show for many years. They are big fans of country music and we’ve talked with them about participating in this show. We heard about the Tex Ritter award, and went right to Katy. Literally on the phone call, she said yes. Katy’s a huge fan of Dolly, reveres her. The two of them have been working together and have come up with an unbelievable duet moment that is a mashup of some of the best songs in her repertoire. Personally, I think they are related in some fashion, but we can’t prove that. We haven’t done a DNA test on either. It will be a special moment in the show.”

Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks

2. Garth Brooks will make an appearance via satellite.

Brooks will be performing a concert on his world tour near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, but will make an appearance via satellite. The producers declined to offer further details of Brooks’ appearance on the show.

Miranda Lambert at C2C. Photo Credit: Christie Goodwin

Miranda Lambert at C2C. Photo Credit: Christie Goodwin

3. Miranda Lambert Performs With Billy Gibbons and Keith Urban.

“I had a conversation about Miranda on what she wanted to do,” Clark said. “She said, ‘I do a lot of covers during my show on tour, and one that I do is [ZZ Top’s] ‘Tush.’ So I asked if I could see if Billy Gibbons was available, and he is. To supersize the moment, we asked Keith Urban to join. He’s already on the show doing his new song, ‘Wasted Time.’ Now we have a triple threat with that performance.”

Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt.

4. The “Class of 2015.”

Last year several country newcomers made great career strides, including Sam Hunt, Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini, Cam, Brett Eldredge, Thomas Rhett, and Old Dominion. Ballerini, Stapleton, and Old Dominion are already ACM winners this year, taking home the trophies for New Female Vocalist, New Male Vocalist, and New Duo/Group. All of these rising stars will perform during the upcoming ACM Awards.

It’s an uprising Romeo likened to the famous “Class of ’89,” which included Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and more—all of whom went on to build enduring careers.

“I sit back and smile because there are a lot of new artists this year,” said Romeo. “I think we’ve really taken that to another level. I said, ‘I think we have the class of 2015 this year.’ When you look at what Sam Hunt has done, and obviously what Chris Stapleton is achieving in the last six months, and we’ve got two great females with Kelsea and Cam. Thomas Rhett and Brett Eldredge and Old Dominion. I truly think we might look back at that in 10 years and say, ‘Wow, that was a great Class of 2015.’ They represent the new blood of country music, they are all on the show, and that’s exciting.”

Kelsea Ballerini - Mary Kay Global Day of Beauty Event

Kelsea Ballerini.

5. Kelsea Ballerini will perform with Nick Jonas.

“Every year, we look for ways to expand and enhance each performance,” said Adelman. “All of us on this call have done hundreds of shows together and separately. We all have relationships from shows that we have done. Nick Jonas has been a good friend to the Academy…and to CBS. He’s a perfect match to Kelsea for this song. That’s another one of those pairings we are excited about and glad we can pull off.”


Joey + Rory.

6. An honor for Joey + Rory’s Joey Martin Feek.

Producers said that though Rory Lee Feek, the husband of the late Joey Martin Feek, will not be an attendance at the ACM awards, one of his older daughters will attend and be honored during the event.

Adelman said, “They are valued members…Joey’s a valued member of our family, it’s like losing a family member, so we will make sure there is an acknowledgment in the proper way.”

Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley.

7. New Co-Host Dierks Bentley.

Dierks Bentley joins the ACM Awards as co-host with Luke Bryan this year, stepping in for previous co-host Blake Shelton. The producers said that Bentley was their first choice for a co-host. Bentley previously hosted the ACM Honors ceremony in Nashville.

“Dierks Bentley and Luke are extremely close friends on and off stage,” said Adelman. “They go hunting and fishing together, they spend time together. Dierks is a pilot and often he gives Luke a lift to concerts they are doing together, so there is a terrific chemistry between them. We took some meetings to see how he felt about it and he’s tremendously enthused about it.”


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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