Artist pairings will dominate the 48th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which will air April 7 on CBS live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, according to executive producer R.A. Clark, ACM CEO Bob Romeo, and CBS exec Jack Sussman, who held a conference call with reporters today.
Among the artist mash-ups to look for and other highlights:
*The show will kick off with Blake Shelton”s upbeat “Boys ‘Round Here.” “The Voice” mentor will be joined by his ACM co-host Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow and Lambert”s two partners in Pistol Annies.
*Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Taylor Swift will perform McGraw”s “Highway Don”t Care”
*Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes, and Dierks Bentley will play Paisley”s humorous “Outstanding in Our Field.”
*Stevie Wonder will join Hunter Hayes on one of the legendary R&B artist”s No. 1 hits.
*The producers also spilled the beans on Garth Brooks and George Strait”s first-time ever performance together: Each will perform one of his own hits and then will join together to perform one of the superstars” hits together. While the producers wouldn”t give specifics, don”t be surprised if the joint song is “Unwound,” Strait”s 1981 hit that a then-teenage Brooks has always credited with making him decide to sing country music. Additionally, per Brooks” suggestion, the ACM Entertainer of the Decade award, which both Brooks and Strait have won, will be retitled the Dick Clark Entertainer of the Decade Award. The performance, which is billed as a tribute to Dick Clark, will be introduced by Reba McEntire, former ACM host and another Entertainer of the Decade winner.
*Kelly Clarkson will perform “Don”t Rush,” but it”s still to be decided if she will duet with Vince Gill, as she does on the single, or with another artist.
*The chemistry between Shelton, who co-hosted with McEntire the past few years, and his buddy Bryan should result in some colorful moments. The pair has even earned the nickname/hashtag #bluke. “Anything can happen,” said Romeo. “I”m so thankful we have a five-second delay.” Sussman added, “Their personalities is what will drive the tone and tenor of the show.”
The ACMs dipped 6% in the ratings last year, but generally grabs around 13 million viewers for the ceremony. For its 2015 50th anniversary, the show will move to Dallas”s Cowboy Stadium, but will return to Las Vegas for 2016.