It was a big night for Luke Bryan as he won Entertainer of the Year during Sunday night’s (April 18th) ACM Awards which aired from Nashville for the second year in a row due to the pandemic. Looking surprised, he said, “Oh my God, You got me!” He first won that award in 2013. Luke accepted via Zoom because he recently tested positive for Covid.

Maren Morris won Female Artist of the Year, as well as Song of the Year for “The Bones.” Thomas Rhett took home the top Male Artist award, Dan + Shay won Duo of the Year, and Chris Stapleton picked up Album of the Year.

There were several on-stage highlights, including Carrie Underwood singing a medley from her gospel album. She was joined by gospel legend, CeCe Winans. Maren Morris and husband, Ryan Hurd delivered a sexy performance of their single, “Chasing After You.” It ended with a sultry kiss. And Little Big Town performed with a marching band in the middle of Broadway without member Phillip Sweet. He had tested positive for Covid, but introduced them in a pre-recorded message from home.

Performances were shot from several venues throughout Nashville — the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe — with hosts Keith Urban and Mickey Guyton handling their duties from the Grand Ole Opry House. The two started the show with a fist bump and remained socially distanced. Mickey made history as the first Black artist to ever host the event.

The small, socially distanced, and masked audience was made up of health care workers from Vanderbilt Health.

WINNERS

Entertainer of the Year: Luke Bryan
Female Artist of the Year: Maren Morris
Male Artist of the Year: Thomas Rhett
Single of the Year: “I Hope You’re Happy Now” by Carly Pearce and Lee Brice. Producer: Busbee
Album of the Year:  Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over”
Song of the Year:  “The Bones” written by Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins, and Laura Veltz
New Female Vocalist of the Year: Gabby Barrett
New Male Vocalist of the Year: Jimmie Allen
Duo of the Year: Dan + Shay
Group of the Year: Old Dominion
Video of the Year: Kane Brown “Worldwide Beautiful”
Music Event of the Year: Carly Pearce and Lee Brice “I Hope You’re Happy Now” .

PERFORMANCES AND PRESENTATIONS

Miranda Lambert and Elle King opened the show wearing matching outfits of long fringe-black leather-type jackets performing “Drunk.” Glitter, fringe, and rhinestones.
Chris Young sang “Famous Friends” with Kane Brown. They performed from the Ryman Auditorium.
Blanco Brown, after missing last year’s show due to a horrific accident, was on stage and presented Group of the Year.
Thomas Rhett performed with what began as a solo and acoustic version of “Country Again” and then he jumped on another stage and sang “Country Song” with a full band.
From the Bluebird Café, Miranda Lambert and Chris Stapleton sang his song, “Maggie.”
Lady A performed “Like a Lady” on an outside stage, with the Cumberland River as their backdrop.
Gabby Barrett performed “One of The Good Ones” from the stage at the Bluebird.
Derks Bentley performed U2’s “In the Name of Love” from Bluegrass venue, The Station Inn. A place he first walked into when he was only 19.
In a pre-recorded piece, Dolly Parton introduced Carrie Underwood. Dolly also urged people to get the vaccine.
Luke Combs performed “Forever After All” with a string orchestra.
Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, and Jon Randall sang “In His Arms Tonight,” a song from their album, The Marfa Tapes.
Brad Paisley surprised Jimmie Allen when he joined him on stage to sing “Freedom Was a Highway.” Jimmie had thought that Brad was out of town and couldn’t make it.
Kenny Chesney performed “Knowing You” as clips of the video played behind him. Later in the show he gave a world premiere performance of “Half of My Hometown” with Kelsea Ballerini.
Dan + Shay’s performance aired with a technical glitch. There was a delay between the video and audio, but still sounded great.
With his band, Eric Church performed "Bunch of Nothing." 
Ashley McBryde performed her song, “Martha Divine” with her band.
Blake Shelton reached back to the beginning of his career and sang “Austin” and then followed it with his latest hit, “Minimum Wage.”
Amy Grant announced Female Artist of the Year.
Co-host, Mickey Guyton sang “Hold On to Me,” a song she wrote as a prayer.
From the Ryman Auditorium, Alan Jackson sang two songs about his kids, “Drive” and “You’ll Always Be My Baby.”
Keith Urban sang his song, “Tumbleweed.”
Carly Pearce and Lee Brice sang their #1 song, “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”
Brothers Osborne sang two songs, including playing out the end of the show with “Dead Man’s Curve.”

BACKSTAGE SOUND

Old Dominion's Matthew Ramsey on the band's fourth consecutive win for Group of the Year: ["Four times is good (band laughs). I mean obviously this year has been so weird. It just like was kind of up in the air for us, I think, just cause like we were talking earlier, you feel so disconnected from the normal ways that you measure your success by being on the road, so it's just kind of hard to guage where we even are. We haven't seen each other that much so we were nervous to be honest, so it feels good."] SOUNDCUE (:23 OC: . . . it feels good.)

Gabby Barrett on life being good with ACM New Female Artist win and new baby: ["Life has been amazing, crazy all the same. I'm normally in bed right now. It's way past my bedtime but this is well worth it (laughs). Everything's going good. My world is just flipped upside down with my sweet little girl and I've announced that I'm gonna be going on tour this year with Thomas Rhett so I'm excited for that and excited to get back out on the road so life is good! It's good!"] SOUNDCUE (:23 OC: . . . good! It's good!)

Lee Brice on winning Single and Music Event of the Year for "I Hope You're Happy Now" with Carly Pearce: ["Winning this award is extremely special. Obviously anytime you get to be nominated at all much less win it's just icing on the cake and then really it's so much for Carly, you know, in my mind. It's her song and something that came from her life and I got to be a part of it and I just feel really blessed to be a part of it."] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC: . . . part of it.)

Dan + Shay's Shay Mooney on technical glitch during the duo's performance: ["It's been a difficult time to put these award shows together during these crazy times and a lot of us had to pre-tape our performances and that's what we did. We pre-taped it yesterday. We were super stoked about the performance, and it was a technical difficulty that happens. There's a lot of things going on, so it happened, we were bummed but it is what it is and they did a great job putting together a great show. It was awesome."] SOUNDCUE (:24 OC: . . . It was awesome.)

Dan + Shay's Dan Smyers on taking home Duo of the Year: ["It's such an honor. It's incredible! Just honestly, it sounds cliche to say it but to be nominated is a huge honor. To just be in the country music family, and to think we used to like sneak into these award shows or try to get like pit passes as fans just cause at the core of all of this we're just fans of country music, so to be invited to the party, to hear our name called in a list of nominees is an honor and we're on cloud nine seriously. It feels like the first time every time."] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC: . . . time every time.)

Kane Brown on winning Video of the Year for "Worldwide Beautiful": ["That song means the world to me because especially for 2020 with all the hatred that's been put in the world by the media, no offense to you guys, I'm not saying y'all are doing it, but I'm just saying there's been a bunch of misled information and this song to me just shows where the world's leading, it's in the future of our children's hands. That's why I put my daughter in the music video and so I'm just so excited that this song meant so much to people in country music and helped the world out."] SOUNDCUE (:29 OC: . . . the world out.)

Carly Pearce on Single of the Year win for "I Hope You're Happy Now": ["This was my story as an apology to somebody in my past and I think that what's showed me time and time again through country music is that writing my own stories and just telling my truths, so many other people are going through the exact same things and this just validates it on like a crazy level and I just feel so proud."] SOUNDCUE (:21 OC: . . . feel so proud.)

Maren Morris on getting to perform with her husband Ryan Hurd for his first ACM Awards performance: ["I was so thrilled to get to kind of be Ryan's first award show performance mate so I think kind of ushering him in with that song that is so special to us in such an intimate way was, yeah, a first, and I got emotional just seeing him across the stage knowing that he's worked so hard to get to where he is and I get to share that moment with him because it is his song."] SOUNDCUE (:23 OC: . . . is his song.)

Thomas Rhett on taking home his third ACM Male Artist of the Year award: ["Tonight hit a little bit different. You know, I think with the year that we had last year there were so many just unknowns and a lot of sitting in your basement writing songs with other people and you never know where you stand as a country music artist and tonight just hit differently and this is one of the most special Male Artist of the Year awards I've ever received and it was just a very special moment."] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC: . . . very special moment.)

Chris Stapleton on taking home the award for Album of the Year for Starting Over and finally getting out of the house to play music: ["These small victories we're having about re-emerging all of us and getting to do things and this is one of them tonight for me, to get to come out and do this and sit on a bus outside the Bluebird (Cafe) and then have a couple cocktails and enjoy a night. I've been sitting at the house like everybody else wondering when we get to get back out there and do things, and so it was really a wonderful night for me."] SOUNDCUE (:25 OC: . . . night for me.)

Luke Bryan on being surprised by Entertainer win: ["You never take these things for granted. I mean, obviously I've won two ACM Entertainers of the Years and, you know, I mean there's been some years I thought I might've should've won another one and I didn't so I think you kind of tell yourself well maybe you're done winning them and then to win another one is very special, and I wish so bad I could've been in the room but still the emotions are there. I mean, my phone is literally on fire with people calling and congratulating so what a special night."] SOUNDCUE (:34 OC: . . . a special night.)

BROADCAST SOUND

ACM AWARDS 2021 Carly Pearce and Lee Brice accept for Single of the Year :

ACM AWARDS 2021 Chris Stapleton accepts for Album of the Year :

ACM AWARDS 2021 Dan and Shay accept for Duo of the Year :

ACM AWARDS 2021 Keith Urban introduces Luke Bryan as he accepts for Entertainer of the Year via Zoom :

ACM AWARDS 2021 Maren Morris accepts for Female Artist of the Year :

ACM AWARDS 2021 Maren Morris accepts for Song of the Year The Bones :

ACM AWARDS 2021 Old Dominion accepts for Group of the Year :

ACM AWARDS 2021 Thomas Rhett accepts for Male Artist of the Year :

Carly Pearce On Single of the Year Win ACM :

Chris Stapleton On Getting Back Out For ACMs :

Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers On Duo Win ACM :

Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney On Technical Glitch ACM :

Gabby Barrett On Life Being Good ACMs :

Kane Brown On Video Win ACM :

Lee Brice On Winning ACMs With Carly Pearce :

Luke Bryan On Surprise Of Winning ACM Entertainer :

Maren Morris On Performing With Ryan Hurd ACM :

Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey On ACM Group Win 2021 :

Thomas Rhett On Male Artist ACM :