Watch Keith Urban Surprise the ACM Awards’ New Male & Female Artists

The superstar delivered the news via Zoom

Keith Urban delivered some great news to Tenille Townes and Riley Green this morning as he revealed via surprise Zoom calls that they had been named the new female and new male artist of the year for the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards.

The show, hosted by Urban, will take place Sept. 16 after being postponed from its original April 5 date due to COVID-19.

For the first time in the show’s history, the awards will take place in Nashville (instead of Los Angeles or Las Vegas), broadcasting from the Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.

In the videos below, Urban crashed a label meeting to surprise Green and then an interview with Tenille to give the very shocked artists the good news.

The other contenders for new male artist were Cody Johnson, Jordan Davis, Morgan Wallen and Russell Dickerson. The other contenders for new female artist were Caylee Hammack, Gabby Barrett, Ingrid Andress and Lindsay Ell. The nominees were announced in late February and voting closed as if the show were still happening in April.  After the show was postponed, the academy pivoted to put on one of the first streaming virtual concerts of the pandemic, ACM Presents: Our Country, on CBS.

“When we had to come off the road back in March, I wasn’t sure what the rest of 2020 would look like,” said Green, in a statement, who broke through recently with “There Was This Girl,” which reached No. 3 on Country Airplay and follow-up “I Wish Grandpas Never Died,” which peaked at No. 12. “So much has happened in the world since then and I’m really excited to have a moment to play music again. My grandfathers’ love for country music is what led me to this moment and I have to dedicate this award to them. Thank you to everyone who believes in my music enough to let this boy from Alabama get to share his songs like this.”

“I’ll always remember this feeling, standing here as a new artist,” said Townes, who has received critical acclaim with tracks like “Somebody’s Daughter” and “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking).” “I feel so honored and incredibly grateful just to be a part of this Country Music community that inspires me. Receiving this ACM Award feels like belief from that community, and that means so much to me.”

“This year’s new artists have experienced astounding success already, and the Academy feels honored to be able to present them with their first ACM Award win,” said Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “We hope this is a memory that they will carry with them as their careers continue to thrive.”

The Academy of Country Music Awards air Sept. 16 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET. The show is produced by dick clark production, which shares a parent company with Billboard.

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