Country News

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 18: (L-R) In this image released on April 18, Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd perform onstage at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards at the Ryman Auditorium on April 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM)

Last night’s ACM Awards spotlighted so much of the best in country music: there was no drama, but a lot of amazing performances. Dierks Bentley teamed up with two duos for a moving U2 cover, 3/4 of Little Big Town shut down the strip in Nashville, Miranda Lambert performed three times, Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd performed together, Chris Stapleton gave us the feels with a lovely ballad about his dog, Carrie Underwood and gospel legend Cece Wynans brought the house down and Mickey Guyton co-hosted the show and, with her performance, reminded us that we’re really looking forward to her full-length debut.

Chris Stapleton performed “Maggie’s Song,” a moving farewell to his dog. Chris’s wife and bandmate, Morgane, was unable to make it to the performance. Per People, the ACMs said earlier in the day that “Due to her prior doula commitment, Morgane Stapleton is unable to join Chris Stapleton at the Bluebird as scheduled. Miranda Lambert will instead take the Bluebird stage with Chris tonight for ‘Maggie’s Song.'”

Per Taste Of Country, Stapleton said in the virtual press room that “I think my sister-in-law’s in labor right now, or may be on her way to the hospital, I’m not sure. My wife is kind of on baby duty, and for once, not her own baby.” Chris and Morgane have five children. Lambert, of course, was a perfect fill-in, as she’s a tireless advocate for dogs via her MuttNation Foundation. Lambert also opened the show with Elle King; they performed their recent collaboration “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home).”  She also performed an acoustic trio version of “In His Arms” with with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall from their upcoming album, The Marfa Tapes.

Dierks Bentley teamed up with Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount (aka the husband and wife vocal duo The War & Treaty) and Rebecca Lovell and Megan Lovell (aka the sibling Americana duo Larkin Poe) for an amazing bluegrass version of U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love).”

The show’s co-host Mickey Guyton gave us more reason to look forward to a full-length album with her inspiring and uplifting “Hold On.”

Ryan Hurd and Maren Morris performed their new duet “Chasing After You,” giving fans reason to hope for a duets album from the couple.

Carrie Underwood did a stunning medley of gospel classics, and was joined by gospel legend CeCe Winans for “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Ashley McBryde’s “Martha Divine” isn’t gospel but it does reference the Bible (“Honor thy father/Honor thy mother/But The Bible doesn’t say a damn thing about your daddy’s lover”), and McBryde and her band kicked serious tail while singing about sending about the lady to her grave (“Martha Divine, your a– is mine/And it ain’t murder if I bury you alive!”)

The legendary Alan Jackson brought a bit of an old-school feel to the ceremony, but also reminded us that he still has a lot to say. He performed “Drive,” a 20-year old song about his dad teaching him to drive, and he, in turn, teaching his daughters to drive. He then went to a new song, “You Will Always Be My Baby” which he performed for the first time.

Three fourths of Little Big Town shut down the strip for a rousing drum-line driven version of “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (Phillip Sweet introduced his bandmates via video; he recently tested positive for COVID).

Check out a list of the winners from the show here.