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What Are the Academy of Country Music Awards

by Scott Kacsmar
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It sure feels like there are a lot of country music award shows each year. We can forgive you if you confuse the Academy of Country Music Awards, also known as the ACM Awards, with the CMT Music Awards or the CMA Awards.

However, a way to remember the Academy of Country Music Awards is to know it is the one with the famous “hat” trophy design that was introduced in 1968.

Before heading to the top-rated sportsbooks for the 59th edition of the ACM Awards coming up, we thought we’d share some history of the event, including the most successful artists and its most prolific host.

The History of the Academy of Country Music Awards

The Academy was officially established in Los Angeles in 1964 when artist Tommy Wiggins, songwriter Eddie Miller and club owners Mickey and Chris Christensen teamed up with other country performers, radio hosts and record executives to establish the Country and Western Music Academy. The name was shortened to the Academy of Country Music (ACM) in the early 1970s.

The goal was to promote country music from the West Coast such as Glen Campbell, Johnny Bond, and Tex Williams. What started as a Southern California movement soon grew to national attention, and by 1966, the 1st ever ACM Awards were held to honor the best in country music from the previous year.

Academy of Country Music Awards 1966

It became the 1st country music awards show held by a major organization, putting country music in the national spotlight for the 1st time. Over time, more award categories and live performers were added to the show to celebrate the genre of country music to fans all over the country while also promoting the Academy’s charitable work.

The ACM Awards were televised for the 1st time by ABC in 1972. The Academy joined with Dick Clark Productions to broadcast the event on NBC in 1979, then a switch to CBS in 1998, and now it is on Amazon Prime Video.

What was a Los Angeles production for decades, the ACM Awards moved to Las Vegas for the 1st time in 2003. The 50th Anniversary of the ACM Awards was held at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in 2015 before returning to Vegas.

COVID-19 postponed the show for the 1st time ever in 2020. It was later held in Nashville, Tennessee for a couple of years before returning to more familiar locations in Vegas and Texas.

In 2022, the 57th ACM Awards became the 1st major award show to be livestreamed exclusively from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Voting Process

The Academy of Country Music has a voting board that elects the nominees and votes for the winners. There was an 8-year experiment in 2008-16 for introducing fan voting for Entertainer of the Year and 3 new artist categories, but that was abandoned after it became too much of an online popularity contest that also created riffs among the artists.

The Awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards

The ACM Awards have gone through a variety of changes to the titles and types of awards handed out at the event each year. At the 1st show in 1966, there were only 6 awards. In 2024, there will be at least 15 awards for top performers, songs, albums, duos, groups, male and female awards, songwriting, visual media and the music event of the year.

Here are the major awards that have been around for most of the ACM Awards’ history:

  • Entertainer of the Year (since 1970)
  • Male Artist of the Year
  • Female Artist of the Year
  • Song of the Year
  • Album of the Year
  • New Male Artist of the Year
  • New Female Artist of the Year

The top prize is Entertainer of the Year, which is why it is awarded last. No one has won it more than Garth Brooks, who won the award 6 times. The group Alabama won it 5 times. Carrie Underwood is the leading female with 3 wins for Entertainer of the Year. Brooks & Dunn lead all duos with 3 wins.

In 2020, there was a tie for the 1st time ever for Entertainer of the Year when Carrie Underwood shared honors with Thomas Rhett.

The most wins for Male Artist of the Year is a 3-way tie with Merle Haggard, Brad Paisley and George Strait. They each won 5 awards.

The most wins for Female Artist of the Year is owned by Miranda Lambert, who won 9 years in a row in 2010-18. Eat your hearts out, Wayne Gretzky and Bill Russell. That’s a 1-woman dynasty.

Special Awards

There are also special awards that are given out less frequently, such as the impressive achievement for Artist of the Decade. These are the winners of that prestigious award:

  • 2010s: Jason Aldean
  • 2000s: George Strait
  • 1990s: Garth Brooks
  • 1980s: Alabama
  • 1970s: Loretta Lynn
  • 1960s: Marty Robbins

Based on past practices, the next Artist of the Decade award will not be named until 2029.

There is also a distinction for a Triple-Crown Award. This goes to any artist, which can include duos or groups, that wins the trio of Top New Artist, Top [Gender] Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year.

These are the only artists to claim a Triple-Crown Award:

  • Kenny Chesney (2005)
  • Merle Haggard (2005)
  • Mickey Gilley (2005)
  • Barbara Mandrell (2005)
  • Brooks & Dunn (2005)
  • Carrie Underwood (2010)
  • Jason Aldean (2016)
  • Miranda Lambert (2022)
  • Chris Stapleton (2023)

When Are the 2024 Academy of Country Music Awards?

The 59th ACM Awards will take place on May 16, 2024, at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

The event will stream live exclusively on Amazon Prime. Jelly Roll and Lainey Wilson will be among the nominees looking to continue their success in the country music award shows this year. Morgan Wallen leads all performers with 6 nominations.

Some of the expected live performers include Post Malone, Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. Reba McEntire will host and perform new music. It will be the 17th time that McEntire has hosted the ACM Awards. She is getting close to Bob Hope’s record for times hosting a major award show. Hope did the Academy Awards 19 times.

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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