ACM Best New Artist 2020
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello and Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Tenille Townes, Riley Green Win the ACM's Best New Artist Awards

Under a month from the Academy of Country Music Awards' Sept. 16 broadcast on CBS, Keith Urban surprised Tenille Townes and Riley Green with some life-changing news.

In true 2020 fashion, Urban crashed a pair of Zoom meetings to announce that Townes won the ACM Award for New Female Artist of the Year, while Green gets to place the New Male Artist of the Year on the mantle back home in Alabama.

The strength of Townes' album The Lemonade Stand and her touring presence earned her first major award in America (the Alberta, Canada native won four Canadian Country Music Association trophies in 2019).

"I'll always remember this feeling, standing here as a new artist," said Townes in a press release. "I feel so honored and incredibly grateful just to be a part of this country music community that inspires me. Receiving this ACM Award feels like belief from that community, and that means so much to me."

Townes won over a very impressive list of nominees: Caylee Hammack, Ingrid Andress, Lindsay Ell and Gabby Barrett.

Townes could win a second trophy come Sept. 16. She's nominated for Music Event of the Year alongside "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" collaborators Hammack, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Elle King and Ashley McBryde. The competition includes Ell's Brantley Gilbert team-up "What Happens in a Small Town." They're up against three formidable duos with cross-genre appeal: Blake Shelton and Garth Brooks, Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber and "Old Town Road's" Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Green's Nashville success story dates back to 2018, when he signed with Big Machine Label Group and cracked the Top 15 with "There Was This Girl." In the past year, he's built on that success with the single "I Wish Grandpas Never Died" and an appearance at the Country Radio Seminar's New Faces of Country Music showcase.

"When we had to come off the road back in March, I wasn't sure what the rest of 2020 would look like," said Green in a statement. "So much has happened in the world since then and I'm really excited to have a moment to play music again. My grandfathers' love for country music is what led me to this moment and I have to dedicate this award to them. Thank you to everyone who believes in my music enough to let this boy from Alabama get to share his songs like this."

This year's New Male Artist winner also toppled worthy candidates: Cody Johnson, Jordan Davis, Russell Dickerson and one of the hottest acts in the genre, Morgan Wallen.

Read More: Garth Brooks Withdraws Himself From Running for the CMA Awards' Entertainer of the Year

Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the 55th ACM Awards were moved from Sun., April 5 in Las Vegas to Wed., Sept. 16 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bluebird Cafe. It'll be the first time the CBS broadcast emanates from Music City.

2020 ACM Award Nominees

Entertainer of the Year

Luke Bryan

Eric Church

Luke Combs

Thomas Rhett

Carrie Underwood

Female Artist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini

Miranda Lambert

Maren Morris

Kacey Musgraves

Carrie Underwood

Male Artist of the Year

Dierks Bentley

Luke Combs

Thomas Rhett

Chris Stapleton

Keith Urban

Duo of the Year

Brooks & Dunn

Brothers Osborne

Dan + Shay

Florida Georgia Line

Maddie & Tae

Group of the Year

Lady Antebellum

Little Big Town


Old Dominion

The Highwomen

New Male Artist of the Year

Jordan Davis

Russell Dickerson

Riley Green

Cody Johnson

Morgan Wallen

Album of the Year

Center Point Road, Thomas Rhett

GIRL, Maren

Heartache Medication, Jon Pardi

What You See Is What You Get, Luke Combs

Wildcard, Miranda Lambert

Single of the Year

"God's Country," Blake Shelton

"One Man Band," Old Dominion

"Rainbow," Kacey Musgraves

"Rumor," Lee Brice

"What If I Never Get Over You," Lady Antebellum

Song of the Year

"10,000 Hours," Dan + Shay Featuring Justin Bieber

"Girl Goin' Nowhere," Ashley McBryde

"God's Country," Blake Shelton

"One Man Band," Old Dominion

"Some Of It," Eric Church

Video of the Year

"10,000 Hours," Dan + Shay Featuring Justin Bieber

"God's Country," Blake Shelton

"One Man Band," Old Dominion

"Remember You Young," Thomas Rhett

"Sugar Coat," Little Big Town

Songwriter of the Year

Ashley Gorley

Michael Hardy

Hillary Lindsey

Shane McAnally

Josh Osborne

Music Event of the Year

"10,000 Hours," Dan + Shay Featuring Justin Bieber

"Dive Bar," Garth Brooks Featuring Blake Shelton

"Fooled Around And Fell In Love," Miranda Lambert Featuring Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, Caylee Hammack & Elle King

"Old Town Road,"  Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

"What Happens In A Small Town," Brantley Gilbert Featuring Lindsay Ell

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