The Academy of Country Music Awards announced the third major leg of the talent lineup for the September telecast Wednesday morning, revealing a slate of artists that will be performing from the Grand Ole Opry stage, in addition to those who were unveiled last week as doing their performances from the Ryman Auditorium or Bluebird Cafe.
Claiming their spots in the wooden circle on the Opry House stage will be the hottest country newcomer of the moment, Morgan Wallen, and a couple of the genre’s most established superstars, Luke Bryan and Eric Church, along with hitmakers Kane Brown, Dan + Shay and Florida Georgia Line,
Mickey Guyton is the odd woman out in this latest talent reveal, and not just because she’s a woman, but because she doesn’t have the run of major hits that the other artists listed do. But the ACMs are clearly looking to make a statement and possibly have a big, emotional moment by having Guyton (who was recently featured in Variety) sing “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?,” a striking ballad about the challenges young women face in what can be a man’s (or boy’s) world. The song first stunned an audience when Guyton performed it to a standing ovation at the Ryman in February at Country Radio Seminar, and she and Universal Nashville subsequently rush-released it as a stand-alone single ahead of her upcoming EP. Although much of the viewing audience may not know Guyton yet, the ACMs are banking that her name will stick in a big way after the Sept. 16 telecast.
The Academy of Country Music also revealed the songs that will be performed by the other artists joining the lineup. Wallen will be doing his recent multi-week chart topper “Whiskey Glasses,” and Bryan also has a No. 1 to perform, in “One Margarita,” as does Florida Georgia Line with “I Love My Country.” Two of the performers will be singing their new releases — Church with “Stick That in Your Country Song” and Brown with his racial harmony anthem “Worldwide Beautiful.”
The normally west coast-based ACM Awards are taking place in Nashville for the first time this year, as a result of the pandemic throwing the show off its usual April-in-Vegas schedule. Part of the shift involved the novel approach of employing three of Nashville’s most iconic stages instead of having just one home base. Among the artists named last week as performing from the Ryman or Bluebird were Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Luke Combs, Gabby Barrett, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini.
If there’s a sense of instant deja vu with a lot of these names, it may be because the other major country music awards show, the CMA Awards, unveiled its list of nominees Tuesday, spotlighting many of the same artists who are being revealed as performers at the ACMs. Normally, there would be a seven-month gap between the two shows in a calendar year, but in 2020, because of the ACMs’ delay, that’s being narrowed down to about two. The CMAs, which would normally take place at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, have not yet revealed any performers or whether current pandemic conditions will force a shakeup in the choice of location for that Nov. 13 show. Despite the unusual proximity of the two shows, it’s understood that many artists will end up performing on both.