by Marcus K. Dowling
Inevitably, Sunday, April 18’s 56th Academy of Country Music Awards program will birth yet another star in a long, storied line of country superstars that have emerged from the proceedings.
Artists are always keen to highlight the amount of hard work that ultimately develops a sustainable career in the music industry. However, for as much as consistent, dedicated effort goes into hatching success, there also needs to be equal amounts of conversation about those brief moments where serendipity puts charismatic, engaging performers over the top. Such serendipity is the case when, on global television, a larger audience than an artist or group is accustomed to performing to watch them live — often for the first time.
Here are five recent occurrences where excelling when exposed to the universe has proven to be a career-springboarding asset for now-superstar country artists.
The Brothers Osborne Perform “It Ain’t My Fault” @ The 52nd ACM Awards (2017)
Before this on-stage appearance, T.J. and John Osborne were a gold-selling album and platinum-selling single into their four-year-long careers. Released in January 2017, “It Ain’t My Fault” had been a year-long success at the time of their ACM appearance. The track peaked in the top-20 on both Billboard’s Hot Country and Radio Airplay charts.
Maren Morris Performs “I Could Use A Love Song” @ The 52nd ACM Awards (2017)
“I Could Use A Love Song” was Maren Morris’ first Country Airplay number-one single. The platinum-seller sparked her rise to acclaim. Morris’ next-released appearance on a track was for “The Middle” with EDM DJ/producer Zedd, which marked her first pop-crossover chart-topper. Having her mainstream awareness grow via a worldwide television audience likely provided incredible assistance. Above is an ACM-recorded video of her rehearsing her groundbreaking performance.
Kane Brown And Lauren Alaina Duet On “What Ifs” @ The 53rd ACM Awards (2018)
In 2018, both Brown and Alaina were surging into country stardom, as their collaboration for “What Ifs” marked Brown’s first taste of Billboard Hot Country chart-topping success. Their performance of the single at the awards program was noted by Billboard as having a “palpable exuberance,” as both artists were noted to be “looking like they were having the time of their lives.”
Ashley McBryde Appears Twice @ The 54th ACM Awards (2019)
Ashley McBryde’s renown as your favorite country artist’s favorite singer-songwriter has benefitted her career’s recent rise. However, appearing not just once, but twice, at the 2019 ACM Awards broadly showcased her talents. She first appeared solo to play her single “Girl Going Nowhere. Then, she joined Eric Church for his single “The Snake.” Increased popularity for the title track from McBryde’s debut album certainly led to the album being nominated for Best Country Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Accompanied By Keith Urban, Mickey Guyton Performs “What Are You Gonna Tell Her” @ The 55th ACM Awards (2020)
Regarding Guyton and Urban’s on-stage collaboration at the 2020 ACM Awards, Academy of Country Music CEO Damon Whiteside told Billboard, “I’m sitting with the executive-producer team at Dick Clark Productions and we were watching that live performance, and we literally had goosebumps just watching her blossom onstage like that. It was so powerful watching Keith play piano for her. We were so moved by it. Literally, right after that, we were like, ’We’ve got to ask her to host with Keith next year.’ We let the show cool and gave it a little time to breathe, but we were thinking about it from then.”