Host Dolly Parton opened the Academy of Country Music Awards on Monday night by dedicating the show to the people of Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
“I don’t want to get political, I’d rather pass a kidney stone than do that,” Parton said from the ACMs stage at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. “But I want us to send our love and hope to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. So why don’t we just dedicate this entire show to them, and pray for peace.”
It was the lone serious moment in the opening monologue for Parton, who wore a jumpsuit that appeared to be covered in sparkling shards of glass.
“A disco ball just fell right on me,” Parton said. “I’m just hoping that nothing punctures me.”
Her co-hosts Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett followed with performances celebrating the show’s return to its usual home city after two years in Nashville. They sang Elvis Presley’s classic “Viva Las Vegas” and Faith Hill’s “Let’s Go to Vegas.”
Other than Parton’s presence, there will be little traditional about the show, which jumped from network TV to a streaming-only, no commercials telecast on Amazon Prime Video.
The year’s top nominee is Chris Young, whose seven nominations, including album of the year and single of the year, come in part because he got dual nods as artist and producer.
Parton is also set to sing on a night when performances will be central — there are 22, while only eight awards will be handed out.
The return of Morgan Wallen, if he attends and wins any major awards, could be among the night’s central moments. Wallen is back as a four-time nominee after being removed from last year’s ACM ballot after he was caught on camera using a racial slur. He has been absent from other awards shows since, though has slowly returned to the spotlight.
His nominations include album of the year for “Dangerous: The Double Album,” which was the most popular album across all genres last year. He also earned nominations for male artist of the year and song of the year.
Drawn by the ACM’s reputation for having a fun, inviting and inclusive atmosphere, Amazon sought to go beyond the live sporting events it has previously aired to connect that with a large audience of country fans who listen to Amazon Music.
The show will have a sporting look, with three stages, overhead spider cameras, non-stop action and heavy on graphics.
The awards will be handed out in segments, rather than spread between songs, with one 35-minute block of performances with no interruptions. A post show edit of only the performances will also be offered.
Reigning ACM entertainer of the year Luke Bryan also has double performances including his hit “Buy Dirt” with Jordan Davis and a performance of his ballad “Up.” Other performers include Kane Brown, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Maren Morris, Walker Hayes, Thomas Rhett, Blanco Brown, Brooke Eden, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde and BRELAND.
Miranda Lambert earned five nominations, including entertainer of the year, and is now tied with Reba McEntire for her 16th female artist of the year nomination. First-time nominee Walker Hayes also received five nominations, due to his viral Applebee’s themed song “Fancy Like,” up for single of the year.
Chris Stapleton, a five-time nominee, is up for entertainer of the year, alongside Lambert, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Carrie Underwood.
Along with Morgan, album of the year nominees include Carly Pearce, Thomas Rhett, Young, Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall.