For the first time it the 55 year history of the Academy of Country Music Awards, one of the biggest nights in Country music is being held in Nashville, Tennessee – the home of Country music.  With the Covid-19 pandemic and a ban on the gathering of large crowds still in place, the ACM Awards is presenting live performances to empty rooms from the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryaman Auditorium, and the Bluebird Café – places that every Country music star has dreamed of playing.

Originally scheduled for April in Las Vegas, the pandemic put a hold on the ACM Awards, but they have returned for a late summer celebration in September.

From the Grand Ole Opry House, Luke Bryan gets the night started with a little music.  His fellow Entertainer of the Year Award nominees Eric Church, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, and Carrie Underwood also perform.

Host Keith Urban takes the stage at the Opry House to welcome and thank Country music fans for tuning in.  Urban spoke of the unsettling world we currently find ourselves…including two pandemics, the virus and social injustice.  He said that the center of Country music, it’s about community.

Jerry Allen gives his debut performance on the ACM’s form the Bluebird Café.

The 2019 ACM Vocal Group of the Year Old Dominion perform from the Ryman Auditorium.

At the Opry House, Clint and Lisa Black present the first award of the year for Duo of the Year to Dan + Shay.

Luke Bryan returns to the stage for a performance of “One Margarita”.

Bobby Bones presents the award for Song of the Year to Old Dominion for “One Man Band”.

Kelsea Ballarini performed from the Ryaman Auditorium. 

Miranda Lambert gives an acoustic performance of “Bluebird” from the legendary Bluebird Café.

At the Grand Ole Opry House Keith Urban spoke with Miranda Lambert.  He announced that Miranda has earned 35 ACM Awards – the most of anyone.

New Male Artist of the Year nominee Morgan Wallen performs from the Opry Stage.

The award for Group of the Year went to Old Dominion.

At the Ryaman, Thomas Rhett and Tom Pardee join forces for a special duet performance.

Blake Shelton and girlfriend Gwen Stefani perform together at the Bluebird Café via the green screen and the magic of television.

At he Grand Ole Opry, Keith announced that this is the 95th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry.  Carrie Underwood paid tribute to the female legends of Country music in a performance that included Patsy Cline, Loreta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, and Vicki Lawrence.

At the Bluebird Café, Luke Combs talked about his time with veterans and teaching them guitar.  He then performed a song he wrote for his now wife – “Better Together”.

At the Ryaman Auditorium, New Female Artist of the Year Tanille Townes gave a performance.

At the Ryman, “American Idol” alum Gabby Barrett performed her song “I Hope”. 

At the Opry House, Duo of the Year winners Dan + Shay perform.

At the Ryman, New Male Artist of the Year Riley Green performs.

 Keith Urban introduces Kane Brown who performed from the Opry House stage.

The award for Single of the Year went to Blake Shelton for “God’s Country”.  Blake accepted the award via video from Los Angeles.

At the Ryman, Maren Morris performs.

After a seven year absence from the ACM’s, Taylor Swift makes a return to perform an acoustic version of her song “Betty”.

Darius Rucker presents the award for Album of the Year to Luke Combs for “What You See is What You Get”.  Luke accepted his award at the Bluebird Café.

Keith introduces Eric Church who performed the Johnny Cash song “Ragged Old Flag” and “Stick THAT in Your Country Song”.       

Eighteen time ACM Award winner Tim McGraw takes the stage at the Bluebird Café for a performance of “I Called Mama”. 

After speaking on the power of women, McGraw introduced Mickey Guyton and Keith Urban on piano for a performance of “What are You Going to Tell Her” on the Opry House Stage.

Host Keith Urban pairs up with pop star P!nk for a new single “One Too Many”.

Lauren Alaina presented the award for Male Artist of the Year to Luke Combs who accepted his second award at the Bluebird Café.    

Gospel singer CeCe Wynans presented the award for Female Artist of the Year to Maren Morris.

Trisha Yearwood paid tribute to those who died over the past year with an In Memorium performance.

Florida Georgia Line took the stage at the Opry House to perform their newest single “I Love My Country”.

Reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year presented the award to the 2020 winner…and it was a tie.  Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood.  Urban noted that he thinks it is the first time in ACM history that the Entertainer of the Year award has gone to two winners.

The night of music concluded with a virtual group performance of Willie Nelson’s hit “On the Road Again”.

Awards not presented during the live television broadcast:
New Female Artist of the Year:
Tanille Townes
New Male Artist of the Year:
Riley Green
Video of the Year:
“Remember You Young” by Thomas Rhett
Music Event of the Year:
“Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Miranda Lambert with Maren Morris

feature photo credit: the ACM Facebook page