By Radio.com Staff
This Sunday, the Academy of Country Music celebrates the 50th anniversary years of the ACM Awards. First held in Los Angeles in 1966, the award ceremony has grown into country music’s party of the year. This year’s show takes place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and will be broadcast live on Sunday, April 19 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Related: ACM Awards Live Coverage
Don’t know all the nominees? Not to worry. We’ve created a Who’s Who list (in alphabetical order…by first name, of course!) of all the nominated artists so you can watch along with friends and family and share the best facts about each of them. And for those wanting a more active, participatory experience, follow our ACM Awards Live Coverage for the latest ACM news, facts and, of course, winners.
This Knoxville, Tennessean moved to Nashville when she was just 13 and made a name for herself writing songs for the likes of Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert before becoming a member of all-female trio the Pistol Annies alongside Lambert and Angaleena Presley. But it was her second solo album, 2012’s Like A Rose, that really put her in the spotlight, thanks to a duet with Blake Shelton (“You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter)“) and the raunchy track “Weed Instead of Roses,” which made it clear she prefers weed, whiskey, heavy metal, chains and whipped cream to roses any day. ~Shannon Carlin
Miranda Lambert’s husband is currently the most winning coach on The Voice, and he’s also cohosted the ACMs for three years running (initially with Reba, now with Luke Bryan). He has also racked up 19 No. 1 singles over the course of nine albums. Prone to drinking and texting, though he knows he probably shouldn’t. ~S.C.
This West Virginia native, who has sold 12 million records over the course of 10 albums, has gotten a reputation for being country music’s resident funny guy with songs like “Ode de Toilet (The Toilet Song),” which is all about leaving the toilet seat down for your girl, and videos that feature water-skiing squirrels (“River Bank”) and an annoying talking orange (“Limes”). His controversial 2013 track “Accidental Racist” with LL Cool J, however, was not meant to be funny, it was meant to start a conversation about racism and what it’s like to be caught between feeling “Southern pride and Southern blame.” ~S.C.
This openly gay singer/songwriter from Washington is best known for co-writing Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow,” the be-who-you-are-no-matter-what anthem that talks about smoking weed and kissing whomever you please. Clark continued to prove she was a born storyteller with her 2013 debut, 12 Stories, which mixes honesty and dark comedy. The record went on to earn Clark a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist, which she later lost to Sam Smith. ~S.C.
The brotherly duo of TJ and John Osborne, who have opened for Eric Church and Little Big Town, are a band that’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. They wear their influences quite literally on their sleeves, with their idols Tom Petty, Hank Williams and Jimi Hendrix all earning a spot on the boys’ arms. Thanks to their second single, the Brothers have taught us that all you need to have some fun is a little sun and a whole lot of rum. ~S.C.
The new mom and Almay model won American Idol in 2005, and she has never stopped winning ever since. Honors she’s racked up include having the fastest-selling debut country album in SoundScan history, the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history and the best-selling country album of the last 10 years. She is also the first and only country artist to ever debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart with her debut single, “Inside Your Heaven.” ~S.C.
This former Luke Bryan merch guy is one of the top new artists in country of the past year, having garnered three consecutive No. 1 singles with his self-penned “Chillin’ It,” “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” and “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.” The Georgia native has a clean, accessible voice that gives him a true back-home feel—like he’s your country-singing next-door neighbor. ~Kevin Rutherford
They’re a rising male duo supplying sunny two-part harmonies, made up up of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. They’re also the lone country act overseen by Scooter Braun’s (a.k.a. Justin Bieber‘s manager) management company. ~K.R.
This Arizona-born genre veteran is now entering his second decade on the radio. His music slides between the poignant (“Say You Do“) and the downright goofy (“Drunk on a Plane“), and he’s even known to make a bluegrass album from time to time. He’s one of the most-nominated artists at this year’s ACM Awards, too. ~K.R.
Mainstream country’s current ‘outlaw,’ Church meets the Waylons, Hanks and Merles of the past and fuses them with modern sensibility—and in the case of “The Outsiders,” harder hitting riffs than anything you’ll hear on rock radio right now. ~K.R.
One of country music’s best-selling females of all time, Hill hasn’t released much new music these past 10 years, other than a holiday album and a few singles. She’s still around for duets, though, such as on “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” with her husband Tim McGraw. ~K.R.
Heard the term ‘bro country’? Many consider these guys are the poster children. The recent genre’s torch-bearing act, made up of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, are also purveyors of some of country radio’s biggest singles since 2012, including the nine-times Platinum “Cruise.” ~K.R.
Among the best-selling artists of all time in any genre, Brooks turned country in a whole new direction when he launched his career in the late 1980s, bringing elements of pop and arena rock into the mix alongside a neotraditional country foundation. After a decade-long retirement, he returned to the scene in a huge way in 2014 (which helped land him an Entertainer of the Year nomination) and is currently on a massive, multi-year World Tour. ~ Kurt Wolff
A bona fide musical legend, Campbell is the voice behind some of the finest country-pop ballads of the mid-20th century, including “Wichita Lineman,” “Gentle on My Mind” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago, he embarked on a Goodbye Tour in 2012. The documentary and accompanying soundtrack Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me includes his final recording, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” ~K.W.
This Georgia-born ACM Entertainer of the Year nominee is one of country music’s hardest-rocking stadium acts, bringing a massive guitar-based sound, high-energy songs and actual fire and smoke to his hugely popular live shows. He also helped bring hip-hop elements into mainstream country thanks to his 2011 No. 1 song “Dirt Road Anthem,” and his 2014 hit “Burnin’ It Down” took a new, smoother turn by mixing in elements of R&B. ~K.W.
From songs about trailer parks to waitresses “Blowin’ Smoke” and folks who just want to “Follow” their own kind of “Arrow,” Musgraves’ 2013 debut album was a “Merry Go ‘Round” of insightful entertainment that immediately caught the music world’s attention, in country as well as across other genres. She’s one of country music’s freshest new voices right now, and her follow-up album is among the genre’s most anticipated releases this year. ~K.W.
He’s Australian, but that hasn’t stopped Urban from becoming one of the biggest names in contemporary country music, thanks to massive hits like “Somebody Like You,” “Stupid Boy” and recent releases “For You,” “We Were Us” and the 2015 ACM Award-nominated “Cop Car.” His seemingly strong marriage to Nicole Kidman and role as the ‘calm’ judge on American Idol only add to his popular appeal. ~K.W.
Chesney has been cutting country albums for more than two decades, and today he’s one of the genre’s true superstars. His stadium tours are major summertime rituals for many country fans, and he continues to earn high rotation on country radio with singles like “Come Over,” “When I See This Bar,” his Grace Potter duet “Wild Child” and the ACM Award-nominated “American Kids.” ~K.W.
This football player turned country songwriter turned solo performer is known to have a thing for “Crazy Girl”‘s, and you should ignore him if he tries to tell you “I Don’t Dance.” ~C.E.S.
The nice-guy of country music and a current Entertainer of the Year nominee, Bryan loves spring break and is known for mashing up genres in his music. With songs like “That’s My Kind of Night” and “Drink a Beer,” he’ll make you party and cry, all in the same night. ~C.E.S.
This singer known for her soprano range was one of the leaders of the big country-pop crossover in the 1990s. She’s won the ACMs Female Vocalist of the Year award three times and is well known for female-focused anthems like “This One’s For the Girls.” ~Brian Ives
Lambert became famous as a hell raiser from her first big single, “Kerosene,” where she used said liquid to exact vengeance upon a cheating lover. Her future husband Blake Shelton surely took note. She’s a five-time ACM Female Vocalist of the Year winner and the only female nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category this year. ~B.I.
One of country music’s biggest pop-crossovers of the post-millenial era, this trio of guys may have upset a few purists, but they have brought millions of new fans to the genre. ~B.I.
A former football player who went on to write songs for Kenny Chesney (“Come Over”) and Keith Urban (“Cop Car”), Hunt released his first solo album, Montevallo, in 2014. Well known for blending his hip-hop and country influences, the album has produced two popular singles so far including “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time.” ~B.I.
The Perry siblings (Kimberly on lead vocals, guitar and piano; Reid Perry on bass and background vocals; Neil on mandolin, drums, accordion and background vocals) have been one of country’s most consistent hit makers (“If I Die Young,” “Better Dig Two,” “DONE”) since debuting in 2010. ~B.I.
A Nashville-born and -bred trio made up of singer/songwriter Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason (drums, vocals) and Kelby Ray (bass guitar, Dobro, acoustic guitar, vocals) the Cadillac Three have seen success with their own music (“The South”) as well writing as songs for other artists including Jake Owen (“Beachin’,” “Days of Gold”) Tim McGraw (“Southern Girl”) and Keith Urban (“You Gonna Fly”). They blend country and Southern rock for a memorable, guitar-heavy live show. ~Annie Reuter
Colton and Zach Swon gained national attention in 2013 as finalists on The Voice. The brothers released their major-label self-titled debut last year and have since been on the road with Brad Paisley, where the comical brothers were a part of some pretty hilarious pranks. ~A.R.
Tim McGraw is half of one of country’s most celebrated couples, alongside his wife Faith Hill. He first saw success in the 1990s and hasn’t stopped recording, touring and hitting the top of the charts ever since. When he’s not on the road, working on new music or cutting duets with his wife, he can be seen on the big screen acting in films like Friday Night Lights, Blind Side and Country Strong. ~A.R.
The son of country hitmaker Rhett Akins, Thomas has made a name for himself in the country genre as a songwriter and solo artist, having written or cowritten his hits “Something to Do with My Hands,” “Make Me Wanna” and “Beer with Jesus.” He is nominated for the coveted ACM New Artist of the Year award alongside Cole Swindell and Sam Hunt. ~A.R.
Zac Brown and his band are well known for their debut country single “Chicken Fried,” where they sing of their love for “chicken fried” foods, “cold beer on a Friday night,” “a pair of jeans that fit just right” and a radio that is cranked “up.” The song put the Georgia-based band on the map in 2008, and it’s been a staple for them ever since. The eight-piece group continues to release music that blends Southern rock, country and other influences. ~A.R.