Keith Urban Preps for a Totally Unique ACM Awards: ‘I Don’t Know What I’m Walking Into’
On Wednesday night (Sept. 16), Keith Urban will be hosting an ACM Awards ceremony unlike any before it. After being delayed five months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the annual awards show has been moved to Nashville for the first time ever.
The 2020 ACM Awards will also be taking place in three separate Music City venues: the Ryman Auditorium, the Bluebird Cafe and the Grand Ole Opry House, where Urban will be stationed. Due to COVID-19-related regulations, the show will have no in-person audience; media members are doing press from home, and the number of people allowed at the venues is being kept to a minimum.
It all adds up to one truly unique, unprecedented event.
"Yeah, unique is the understatement, isn't it?" Urban says with a chuckle. "I don't know what I'm walking into, and that's okay with me. That's alright with me."
A first-time ACM Awards host, Urban has known about his role at this year's show for months now (he was publicly announced as ACMs host in late February). The 2019 ACM Entertainer of the Year said in early September that his duties for the big night would become clearer as the show drew closer, but even before rehearsals began, he knew only broadly what his job will be.
"We all want the same thing, you know? We want to feel like we're not alone right now — literally — and just a little bit of levity in the midst of so much doomsurfing [on social media]," Urban explains. "[I want to offer] some connection, really, and, through music ... do what we can to kind of bring it all together."
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It would have been easy for the Academy of Country Music to cancel the 2020 ACM Awards all together, Urban points out; instead, they leaned into what they could do "and made it work."
The country superstar admits he's "absolutely nervous" about hosting what turned out to be a very different version of the ACM Awards. "And then," he adds, "at the same time, I'm like, 'My heart's in the right place.'"
"And I think the spirit the spirit of the show is in the right place: We're there to honor country music and the people that make it and the audience that makes it possible for us to do what we do," Urban notes. "So I think if we keep all those things just in the center of everything we do, we'll be okay."
The 2020 ACM Awards will air live on CBS; the show is scheduled to begin at 8PM ET. Urban will then release a new album, The Speed of Now Part 1, on Friday (Sept. 18).
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