On Thursday night, the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas hosted the Academy of Country Music, with hosts Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks. But, the festivities kicked off on Wednesday with several early victories.
Hailey Whitters and Zach Bryan won the new female and male artist of the year. In addition, Ashley Gorley was recognized as songwriter of the year for co-writing popular tracks such as Sand in My Boots by Morgan Wallen and You Should Probably Leave by Chris Stapleton.
Chris Stapleton was awarded the top prize of Entertainer of the Year at the Academy’s prestigious awards ceremony. Lainey Wilson and HARDY were the most successful artists of the evening, each taking home four awards, while Cole Swindell was recognized with three wins. The event showcased the brightest stars and up-and-coming talent in country music, highlighted by 18 stunning performances from 25 artists.
Lainey Wilson was the night’s standout artist with three wins, including album of the year, and Chris Stapleton won the coveted entertainer of the year award.
Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Keith Urban and Jelly Roll were among the evening’s many performers, with co-host and 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Parton closing out the show with a performance of “World on Fire,” a new track off her highly-anticipated rock album, “Rockstar.”
Ed Sheeran also made a surprise appearance to perform his new song “Life Goes On” in a duet with Luke Combs.
HARDY entered the night as the most-nominated artist, with seven nods, including song of the year and artist-songwriter of the year. He shared three of his nominations with Lainey Wilson, who was nominated for six awards.
Trailing them are Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert and Cole Swindell, who will each vie for five trophies.
Lambert, who won the coveted Triple Crown Award last year, is up for female artist of the year for a record-breaking 17th time; this year’s nomination pushes her past Reba McEntire’s 16 nods in the category.
If either Combs or Stapleton take home entertainer of the year, they too will be Triple Crown winners, which means an artist has won entertainer of the year, new artist and artist of the year.
The show is set to be a star-studded affair, with performances from Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, HARDY, Brown, Combs, Cody Johnson, Lambert, Jelly Roll, Morgan Wallen, The War and Treaty, Wilson, Bailey Zimmerman and Parton, who will debut the first single from her upcoming rock album.
Carly Pearce and Trisha Yearwood will also duet on a medley of hits, while Cole Swindell and Jo Dee Messina will team up on “She Had Me at Heads Carolina (Remix).” Ashley McBryde, Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack, Pillbox Patti and Brothers Osborne’s John Osborne will also sing “Bonfire at Tina’s,” while Ed Sheeran will appear for a special performance.
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