Riley Green and Tenille Townes are the earliest winners at the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards, taking the New Male and New Female Artist of the Year honors, respectively. Both artists were surprised with the news on Thursday by ACM Awards host Keith Urban.
Green was in a group Zoom with label executives including Scott Borchetta and Jimmy Harnen, when Urban joined the party and started chatting with Green about missing out on playing shows. “How about playing the ACMs? Would you like to play the ACMs?” Urban asked, as he told Green about the win. “I’ll at least get to play one show this year. You can’t get on to me for playing this show,” Green said in response. Green’s major label debut Different ‘Round Here was released in 2019 and includes the singles “There Was This Girl” and “I Wish Grandpas Never Died.”
Townes, who released her debut album The Lemonade Stand earlier in 2020, was sitting down for what she thought was an interview when Urban popped up on the screen. “Are you feeling good right now? You’re about to feel a whole lot better,” Urban said, giving the news to a tearful, overjoyed Townes. The Lemonade Stand includes the singles “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)” and “Somebody’s Daughter,” both of which were chart-topping hits in Townes’ native Canada, as well as “The Most Beautiful Things” and “White Horse.”
Both Townes and Green will perform during the telecast of the 55th ACM Awards, set for September 16th at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Rescheduled from their usual April date, the awards will for the first time take place in Nashville, spread across venues including the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Bluebird Café.
Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, and producer Dann Huff lead among nominees for the 55th ACM Awards. The night’s top category, Entertainer of the Year, includes nominees Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett, and Carrie Underwood.