2020 ACM Award winner for Best Female New Artist Tenille Townes dropped by Radio Row backstage as the 55th Annual Academy of Country Music celebrates the best of the genre virtually this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This year's show will be hosted by Keith Urban, live from Nashville on Wednesday, September 16 on CBS, but the good vibes have already begun. Singers Thomas Rhett and Miranda Lambert (along with a whole host of collaborators including Tenille) have taken home early trophies for Music Video of the Year and Music Event of the Year respectively -- and Tenille has officially been named New Female Artist of the year.
Speaking and sending virtual hugs with RADIO.COM's Kelly Ford over video chat, Tenille is super excited about the big win alongside Riley Green who took home the New Male Artist award. Kelly wonders though: Where's the actual trophy? Shouldn't she be bringing that thing everywhere?
Laughing, Tenille says she may take her friend Ashley McBryde's advice about where to keep the award. "She told me she puts hers in the bathroom, because everyone will see it."
Ashley was on hand at the Grand Ole Opry to officially give Tenille the award and she couldn't think of a better person to perform those duties. "It was so surreal. Ashley's a dear friend and someone I look up to a lot," she says. "I just will never forget watching her last year perform on the show and celebrate that win. It's an honor to follow in her footsteps and it was so cool to celebrate that at the Opry together."
Kelly and Tenille happened to chat just before the Music Event of the Year award was announced. Miranda Lambert, along with Tenille, Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Caylee Hammack and Elle King, took home the trophy for their collaborative performance of "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."
"It was so cool to get to sing that song together. I’ll never forget hearing their voices come through the headphones in the studio,” Townes admits. "It’s just like, ‘is this even real life? How do I get to sing on this and be a part of this?’ I’m so grateful to Miranda for having me and bringing us all on the road. It was really cool getting to sing that song at the end of the show every night.”
“It’s one thing to come together and record it, but then to get to do it live over and over was really special.”
Also special… getting to put on real clothes and make up for an actual event. Both Kelly and Tenille were happy to swap the sweatpants for the big night, while Tenille says she’s been staying productive during these days of quarantine.
“This really took a second to come together here,” she joked. “It’s been such a weird time. I know for everybody there’s like a thousand different emotions that exist in one day and sometimes that looks a lot like pajamas. But I’ve actually been writing a lot in this time and doing different Zoom writes with friends.”
“It’s definitely pointed out that there’s nothing that can replace that in-person energy of being able to sing with each other in a room,” she admits. “There’s nothing like that feeling of sitting beside somebody and witnessing that magic, but I will say I’m quite impressed with what can still happen through the distance. It just makes me happy that the music will prevail and figure out a way to still be created because it’s been really fun in this time. It’s been like a piece of my sanity to still be able to write and turn to music.”
However, there’s absolutely nothing like getting out to celebrate. “It feels kind of fun to maybe get dressed a little – or at least where we can see each other on Zoom and then I can wear my slippers at the same time.”
This year's awards show will feature performances from three separate venues across Nashville: the Grand Ole Opry House, the Bluebird Cafe and the Ryman Auditorium. Watch on Wednesday night, September 16 as Keith Urban hosts on CBS at 8PM ET.