Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett were named the best new male and female artists of the year by the Academy of Country Music in pre-telecast reveals posted Thursday morning.
Both artists were pictured opening up video cards from ACM Awards co-host Keith Urban and being shocked by the news. Allen was handed his as “something that arrived in the mail” in a studio control booth. “You’re just playin’!” he exulted after watching Urban’s video proclamation.
Barrett, sitting at a conference room table, was just a little more expectant when opening her video card:”Oh my God! Now I know why you told me to put on my makeup and get dressed.”
Giving these awards out early isn’t just a way to knock some categories off early and leave more time on the three-hour CBS telecast for performances, although it is performance-related. As Urban noted in his video messages, being named early as winners in these categories ensures both Barrett and Allen their own solo shots on the show, versus the mini-bumpers that new artist nominees have sometimes been squeezed onto on country awards telecasts.
Allen and Barrett join the 29 artists already announced Monday by the ACMs as appearing on the show a week from Sunday, with the newcomers to the bill getting a healthy week and a half to get their performances together.
Besides the newly named winners and telecast co-hosts Urban and Mickey Guyton, the ACMS will feature performances by Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton, Little Big Town, Kane Brown, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde, Kelsea Ballerini, Carly Pearce, Chris Young, Jack Ingram, Lee Brice, Ryan Hurd, Elle King, CeCe Winans, Jon Randall and the War and Treaty.
The ACMs are somewhat unique in now separating the best new artist category by gender, which allows for spreading the love; the CMA Awards, held in the fall, have just one new artist division.
The other nominees for new female artist of the year were Guyton, Ingrid Andress, Caylee Hammack and Tenille Arts. For new male artist of the year, the competitors were Parker McCollum, Travis Denning, Hardy and Cody Johnson.
Barrett still has a chance at another award, as her breakthrough song “I Hope” is up for single of the year.
The ACM Awards will be broadcast April 18 at 8 p.m. ET (delayed for the west coast) from the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and Bluebird Cafe, a la last year’s show.
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