By Brian Ives
With the GRAMMYs in the rear view mirror, the country community is looking towards the Academy of Country Music Awards, which take place Sunday, April 2.
This morning, Lady Antebellum—Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood, and Charles Kelley—appeared on CBS This Morning to help announce this year’s nominees. See the full list here. Although they took most of 2016 off — both Scott and Kelley were involved in solo projects—they were nominated for Vocal Group of the Year. They spoke to Radio.com about their nominations and about some of their fellow nominees.
Congratulations on being nominated. Were you surprised?
Charles: After this year, where we took a little bit of a break, it felt good to still be [nominated] in that category. We’ve got our first single out, “You Look Good,” so I don’t know, we didn’t know if we were gonna be nominated this year.
Hillary: The ACMs hold a very special place in our heart because that’s the first award we ever won back in 2008 [Top New Duo or Vocal Group].
I know that everyone in country music is friends, but is there a sense of competition among all you guys when you are nominated against each other for awards?
Charles: You definitely want to win. I think maybe next year we’ll feel like we have a chance, or that we deserve to win. This year, just to be nominated is pretty cool. It’s fun for us to see the new artists, like Kelsea Ballerini, who is coming out on the road with us, she’s up for Female Vocalist [of the Year]. I know what that must feel like when you’re just starting out, those first couple of years, it’s such a huge platform to be [nominated] in those categories. Maren Morris as well. You really root for those new artists.
Related: Hillary Scott Interview
Hillary: It’s always so cool to bear witness to a “moment” for an artist. When we went to other award shows in the past, there’s always that one or two performances that you never forget, that you leave [the event] talking about, and that inspire us. It’s always neat to watch and see what those moments are.
Dave: It truly is a lot of fun backstage too. There’s a male dressing room, a female [dressing room], so it’s like us and Luke [Bryan] and Jason [Aldean] and all these guys who you get to see and catch up with.
Charles: Luke gets his own dressing room now, ’cause he’s hosting. If you want to drink, go to Luke’s room, he literally has a bar set up, it’s awesome.
Charles, you mentioned Maren Morris; she’s one of the biggest breakout stars in country from the past year.
Charles: One of the coolest things about Maren, the same producer [who produced her album Hero] just produced our album; busbee. We had written a lot of songs, we wrote “Our Kind of Love” with him. But after listening to that Maren Morris record, it was like, “Wow, the sounds on that are really amazing.” It really is a genre defying album. Like there’s a little bit of R&B with “’80s Mercedes,” and then there is more country sounds like on “My Church.” So it’s really cool, that’s what we try to do too, mix all our influences. She is a soul singer. You saw that on the GRAMMYs with Alicia Keys, she held her own with one of the best vocalists around.
Related: Charles Kelly Interview
Hillary: I feel like every song on her album, they did it justice. If you’re looking at the songs collectively as a body of work, it works, but every individual song is done so well. It’s one of my most played albums of the last year, no question.
Then you have Keith Urban, who has had the longest career of anyone nominated this year, and he’s also the most nominated artist with seven. That must be inspiring to you guys; that a guy with a career spanning decades can remain so relevant.
Charles: one of the main reasons I think Keith continues to stay on top is because he reinvents himself. Ripchord is definitely pushing a lot of boundaries sonically, the way it was produced is definitely different from, say, one of his earlier records. I think that true talent usually does win out and has longevity. You can’t be doing it for that long unless you’re just one of the best.
This note in the ACM Awards factsheet was shocking: “For the first time in the history of the award, a woman has been nominated in the Songwriter of the Year category. 2017 marks a big change in the category, with two females, nominated: Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna. Both also received nominations as songwriters for Song of the Year nominees ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color’ (Hillary Lindsey) and ‘Humble And Kind’ (Lori McKenna). ” Your thoughts on that?
Charles: That is shocking. How has Hillary Lindsay not been up for that before?
Hillary: You saying that just gave me chill bumps. Because Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey are two of the most prolific songwriters ever. We’ve written with Hillary a lot, and we’ve written with Lori, and they’re both incredible at crafting a song and speaking from their own perspective, but also getting into the head and heart of the artists that they’re working with. And that’s a real skill. When you’re a really great songwriter, you’re able to put yourself in the voice that’s singing it.
The 52nd Academy of Country Music Award will broadcast live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV on Sunday April 2, 2017, at 8:00 PM ET/delayed PT on CBS. Luke Bryan returns to co-host the awards for the fifth consecutive year, joined again by co-host Dierks Bentley for the second consecutive year.