(CBS) – The 56th Academy of Country Music Awards return to CBS this Sunday, April 18th starting at 8:00PM ET/PT. This year the show will also be available to stream live for the first time with Paramount+. Keith Urban returns to the awards after hosting The 55th ACM Awards last September and this time around he will share hosting duties with 2021 “New Female Artist of the Year” nominee Mickey Guyton.
CBS’ Matt Weiss spoke to Urban about working alongside Guyton, new music on the way and a record that will hopefully never be broken.
MW: Hello Keith, nice to see you!
KU: Yeah, you too Matt. How’s it going?
MW: All’s good over. First off congratulations to you joining elite company as a two-time ACM host. You’re also the only two-time host in a pandemic. Hopefully that’s a record that will never be broken!
KU: [Laughs] Yeah. Let’s not have that record ever happen again.
MW: Hopefully not. What does it mean to be back on that stage now?
KU: It’s great. I had a blast hosting last year. I mean, of course, I was supposed to do it in Vegas in April 2020. I was so looking forward to that because the Vegas energy is through the roof but that didn’t happen and we moved it to September. We moved it to Nashville, we did it without the audience.
I still had such a great time doing it. There were so many great performances and it was a historic night because Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett tied for “Entertainer of the Year.” That has never happened in the history of the ACMs. This year, I’m getting to host it a second time with Mickey Guyton so a lot of firsts still to come.
MW: Of course Mickey is one of the great voices in country music along with yourself. How’s it been preparing to co-host with her?
KU: I love the fact she’s doing it with me. We played a song together last year on the ACMs and she was so easy to work with. When we started talking about doing this together, it was easy, super easy. I’m really looking forward to it.
MW: Now as a multiple-time ACM Award winner yourself you know what it’s like to hear your name called. What does an ACM Award mean to these performers?
KU: It’s an amazing feeling. Just to get the nomination, honestly, the nomination is the first award because there’s only so many. So that nomination is the first award. But, boy, when they call your name out it is quite surreal.
MW: A lot of incredible performances coming up this year, yourself included. Now feel free to say yourself if you want to, but which performance are you looking forward to most?
KU: Oh, there’s a lot that I don’t even know yet what they’re going to be doing. I know a lot of people that are playing, but I don’t know what songs they are doing. The great thing about the ACMs is a lot of artists will debut brand new songs off their albums or even a song we haven’t heard yet.
I’m going to be doing a song that’s never been released as a single either. It’s called “Tumble Weed” with my band. We’ve never done it live like this before, so I’m psyched about that.
MW: We’ve all had a very different last year and a half from the typical day-to-day. Were you able to turn this time into inspiration for new music?
KU: I found a lot of inspiration and it’s certainly a lot to write about it. We have a new single coming out soon called “Out The Cage,” which is a song I did with an amazing artist named Breland. It also features Nile Rodgers on guitar as well, that’s coming out very soon.
That song was written at the beginning of last year about everything that we’re going through. Even more than that, too. Really psyched for people to get to hear that song as well.
MW: I know you have some concerts scheduled for this summer, finally. What’s it going to mean you to get back out on stage in front of your fans?
KU: It’ll be quite surreal to have people in front of us. It’s not until the latter part of August and they’re outdoor festivals. Hopefully, if everything keeps moving in the right direction, that won’t have to be moved or canceled.
I’m right with the audience, we’re so tired of things getting canceled. When they have to be, they have to be, we get it. But our fingers are crossed that it’s going to happen.
MW: Absolutely, well we’re all looking forward to seeing you back out there and in the mean time all the best with the ACMs this weekend!
KU: Thank you Matt! Take care, brother.
Tune in for the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday, April 18th starting at 8:00PM ET/PT on CBS or streaming live with Paramount+. Check your local listings for more information.