A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood among Oklahoma stars to heat up Sunday’s ACM Awards
Oklahomans who will present awards, perform or vie for honors include Thompson Square, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Olivia Munn and Trisha Yearwood.
Some of Oklahoma’s top stars are expected to bring heat and chemistry to the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
The ACM Awards will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday on the CBS Television Network, with Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan co-hosting for the second straight year.
“They did such a great job last year. They have a tremendous chemistry, they’re friends in real life, they love to ad lib, they love to kid each other on stage and off stage,” Executive Producer Barry Adelman told The Oklahoman in a conference call Monday. “They brought a new energy to the show for us. We saw a winner and we know when to return with a winner.”
Both Shelton and Bryan have the chance to literally emerge as winners, since each earned multiple nominations, including bids for the top prize, entertainer of the year.
“Luke won it last year, so let’s see if Blake can win it this year. In addition, Blake’s wife Miranda (Lambert) is nominated for entertainer of the year, so that’s another little friendly rivalry that’s going on,” Adelman said. “Of course, the other two in the category just show the span and the breadth of country music, where you have George Strait—the acknowledged King of Country Music going on his retirement tour right now– and Taylor Swift, certainly the person who … represents all the youth and excitement that’s available in country music today. It’s a great race.”
Lambert tied Tim McGraw in garnering a leading seven nominations, including her third nod for entertainer of the year and eighth consecutive nod for female vocalist of the year. Additionally, Lambert is nominated for single record of the year, song of the year and video of the year for “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and twice for vocal event of the year for both “We Were Us” with Keith Urban and “Boys ‘Round Here” with Shelton and her fellow members of the all-girl trio Pistol Annies. Lambert is the reigning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year.
Shelton is nominated for five awards, including his third consecutive nomination for entertainer of the year and fourth nod for male vocalist of the year. Also, the Ada native received a nomination for album of the year for “Based on a True Story …” (produced by fellow Oklahoma native Scott Hendricks), song of the tear for “Mine Would Be You” and vocal event of the year for “Boys ‘Round Here.”
Checotah native Carrie Underwood garnered two nominations, for female vocalist of the year and video of the year for “Two Black Cadillacs.”
Thompson Square, which includes Miami, OK, native Keifer Thompson and his wife Shawna, is nominated for vocal duo of the year, a prize the couple has won the past two years.
Several stars with Oklahoma ties also are included on the roster of ACM Awards presenters and performers. Oklahoma City native Olivia Munn, Owasso resident Trisha Yearwood, Thea Andrews, Guy Fieri, LL Cool J, Jewel, Nancy O’Dell, Chris O’Donnell and Clay Walker have been confirmed as presenters.
The performance lineup includes Norman resident Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Lee Brice, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, Hunter Hayes, Justin Moore, Kip Moore, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, The Band Perry and Florida Georgia Line. As usual, several special pairings are planning, including Darius Rucker with Rascal Flatts (which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney), Dierks Bentley with Sheryl Crow, Lady Antebellum with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks and Shelton with fellow “The Voice” coach Shakira, who recorded a duet titled “Medicine” with the Oklahoma country star for her recent self-titled album.
“Blake Shelton is one of the best live performers out there today, and Shakira is just an amazing singer and live entertainer,” said Jack Sussman, executive vice president and CBS specials and live programming, in the conference call. “The two of them together will bring heat to that moment, and it’ll be something live that you don’t get to see every day.”
In addition, Oklahoma megastar Garth Brooks will present the ACM Crystal Milestone Award to Merle Haggard, with Lambert and Strait helping pay tribute to the outlaw country legend, who will celebrate his 77th birthday Sunday.
“Merle was the first person in the academy’s history to win our new male vocalist of the year award. He then went on to win male vocalist, and then he went on to win entertainer, which qualified him to be our first triple crown winner. … When you look back at 50 years of the academy, you’d think there’d be a lot of those winners, and the truth of it is, there’s just about seven of them that have gained the triple crown. I think Carrie Underwood was the last,” said Bob Romeo, CEO of the Academy of Country Music.
“So, we’re recognizing Merle for making 50 years of great music.”
The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday on the CBS Television Network, with Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan co-hosting for the second straight year.
Follow Brandy McDonnell’s live coverage of the ACM Awards Sunday night on her BAM’s Blog at blog.newsok.com/bamsblog as well as on Twitter @BAMOK.