Well so much for drama, pomp and circumstance, or anticipation. As informally as sticking a post-it note to the office billboard right beside a reminder to clean the microwave after each use in the breakroom, the ACM Awards have announced the apparent winners of the 2016 “New Artist” categories. Though during certain years, the ACM’s elect to only award one performer with the “New Artist” distinction, this year they split the award into groups. Chris Stapleton won for New Male Artist of the Year, Kelsea Ballerini won for New Female Artist of the Year, and Old Dominion walks away with New Duo/Group of the Year. So there’s that. Apologies for the disruption. You’re free to go about your business now.
Even when some awards are given out pre-telecast, unless it is for industry awards, there’s usually at least a little bit of attention paid to the announcement, perhaps on a network morning show the day of the awards to help promote the festivities, or right before the show starts to get folks buzzing—not dumping the info in the laps of the press corps unexpectedly on a busy Wednesday morning. But when has anyone ever accused the ACM’s of doing its business in a smart or judicious manner? It just feels a little deflating for the artists and their fans when these distinctions are supposed to mean something.
Either way, it’s yet another positive sign for Chris Stapleton. Remember, it was his surprise win over Sam Hunt for New Artist of the Year at the CMA Awards that started off his now legendary evening that rocketed him into superstardom. Stapleton leads all other nominees going into the April 3rd awards show with 6 additional chances to win big on the night, including for Album of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year—two awards he won at the CMA’s in November.
Though Kelsea Ballerini leaves much to be desired, her win for New Female Vocalist was well anticipated. As one of the few young females able to break through the good ol’ boys blockade on country radio (even if it is with pop songs), her victory was very much secured. What exactly Old Dominion has done to deserve anything is up for question, especially when Maddie & Tae were also nominated, and had a much bigger impact on country over the last year. The female pair is also up for Vocal Duo of the Year on April 3rd, unless the ACM’s decide to announce that in a fortune cookie Al Roker cracks into on some random morning before the telecast or something.
It also means Saving Country Music is 2 for 3 on its predictions for the awards. Make sure to stop by April 3rd as we’ll be razzing everyone during the ACM Awards LIVE blog.
Now back to your regularly scheduled Wednesday.
New Male Vocalist of the Year
” Brett Eldredge
” Chris Janson
” Thomas Rhett
” Chase Rice
” Chris Stapleton Winner
New Female Vocalist of the Year
” Kelsea Ballerini Winner
” Mickey Guyton
New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year
” A Thousand Horses
” Brothers Osborne
” Maddie & Tae
” Old Dominion Winner