54th ACM Awards: Reba Returns to Celebrate A New Generation Of Country Stars


Academy CEO Pete Fisher has introduced a process pressure to handle nation music’s gender imbalance after no ladies had been nominated for entertainer of the 12 months.

When the nominations for the 54th annual Academy of Country Music Awards had been introduced Feb. 20, most of the main nominees had been artists who had damaged via within the final six years: Chris Stapleton, who acquired six nominations, launched his first solo album, Traveller, 4 years in the past; Dan + Shay, who additionally garnered six (with the duo’s Dan Smyers receiving 4 extra nods for his work as a producer and songwriter) put out their Where It All Began debut in 2014; Kacey Musgraves (5 nominations) dropped her major-label debut, Same Trailer Different Park, in 2013; and Brothers Osborne (4 noms) are on solely their second full-length album, 2018’s Port Saint Joe.

“I’m very happy with the nominees this 12 months,” says ACM CEO Pete Fisher. “Of explicit be aware is the [academy’s] recognition of Kacey Musgraves on the heels of her enormous win on the Grammy Awards. It displays that the ACM voting members really feel the identical method and equally applaud her.”

Second-round voting for the ACMs closed Feb. 11, in the future after Musgraves scored 4 Grammys, together with album of the 12 months for Golden Hour. Nominations for relative newcomers Luke Combs, Maren Morris and Kane Brown are additional proof, says Fisher, “that the academy’s course of is related.”

CBS will broadcast the ceremony stay from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7. The present is produced by Dick Clark Productions (which shares a guardian firm with Billboard).

The one space the place the nominations fell quick was the entire absence of girls within the entertainer of the 12 months class for the second 12 months in a row. In 2019, all the artists vying for the glory are white males — Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban — and the final girl to win was Taylor Swift in 2011.

Even Reba McEntire, who will return because the telecast’s host, expressed her dismay after asserting the nominees on CBS This Morning. “It doesn’t make me very blissful, as a result of we’ve acquired some very proficient ladies on the market who’re working their butts off,” she mentioned. Fisher shares that disappointment: “We need our group to symbolize all the nice music and expertise that’s in nation music.”

In an effort to handle the gender imbalance, Fisher reveals that the academy is growing a process pressure to look at limitations and biases affecting ladies and underrepresented teams in nation music. The group is anticipated to supply constructive suggestions about the place progress will be made throughout the academy in addition to the business at massive.

The ACM’s transfer comes after the Grammys’ Recording Academy arrange the same process pressure in 2018 that resulted in inviting a youthful and extra various voting membership. Fisher expects to launch extra particulars on the ACM’s iteration later in March.

At a time when awards exhibits normally are scuffling with anemic rankings, total viewership of the ACM Awards stays robust: It rose over 1 million in 2018 to 12 million, in keeping with Nielsen. “I’d credit score Reba’s return to internet hosting as a key issue within the success we loved,” says Fisher of McEntire, who hosted the telecast 14 instances between 1986 and 2012 and returned in 2018 after a 5 year-hiatus.

Last 12 months’s broadcast, the primary nation music awards present in Las Vegas following the October 2017 mass taking pictures on the Route 91 Harvest competition, additionally benefited from Carrie Underwood’s stage comeback following an harm that had left her out of the highlight for months and the debut of ACM Flashbacks — segments that paired a up to date artist with a legendary act to carry out a rustic basic made well-known by the latter artist. Highlights from final 12 months included duets between Kelly Clarkson and McEntire, and Alan Jackson and Jon Pardi. “Viewers each younger and previous loved these iconic moments, which drive viewership,” says Fisher.

Not surprisingly, the ACM Flashbacks will proceed this 12 months. Also seemingly to attract in viewers is the presentation of the artist of the last decade award to Aldean. Previous honorees have been Marty Robbins (1969), Loretta Lynn (1979), Alabama (1988), Garth Brooks (1998) and George Strait (2009). Aldean, who has been named ACM entertainer of the 12 months the previous three years, is just the second nation act in historical past (after Rascal Flatts) to attain 4 consecutive No. 1s on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart along with his 2018 album, Rearview Town. The academy’s particular awards committee deliberates on the candidates for artist of the last decade earlier than deciding on one title to place forth earlier than the board. For the primary time this 12 months, managers, labels and artists may submit names.

The 54th annual ceremony marks Fisher’s third time on the helm since assuming management of the academy in early 2017. His greatest statement since taking cost is how the nation music communities unite. “Week to week, there’s nonetheless competitors between everybody,” he says, “however a number of instances a 12 months our business comes collectively and actually tries to do their greatest for nation music.”

This article initially appeared within the March 9 concern of Billboard.