Get to know the artists who already scored awards ahead of Sunday's show

By Grace Gavilanes
April 01, 2016 06:45 PM
Credit: Justin Lloyd/Newspix/Getty; Rob Kim/Getty; John Shearer/WireImage

It’s that time of year again! On Sunday, country music’s most lauded stars are coming together for the 51st annual ACM Awards, which celebrates excellence in the music genre.

Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley are set to host, and the show will provide fans with memorable performances by Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood, plus a duet between Katy Perry and Dolly Parton.

And while we’re psyched about who’ll be taking home the ACM Award for the night’s biggest honor, entertainer of the year, we’re taking a look at the three artists who have already scored wins in the new artist categories: new male vocalist, new female vocalist and new vocal duo or group.

Get to know the newly-minted winners below.

Chris Stapleton

ACM Category:

New Male Vocalist

Who Was He Up Against? Brett Eldredge, Chris Janson, Thomas Rhett and Chase Rice

Songs You’ll Love: Aside from his smash hit “Tennessee Whiskey,” which has been covered by Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith, the buzzy artist also penned “Drink You Away,” “Nobody to Blame” and the title track for his critically acclaimed debut album Traveller.

Fun Fact: You may have only just started hearing Stapleton’s name, but you’ve been listening to his music for quite some time. The new male vocalist winner has written songs for Tim McGraw, Bryan, Shelton, Miranda Lambert, just to name a few.

Why He Deserved the Win: Not only is Traveller a certified masterpiece, but as previously mentioned, an ACM win has been a long time coming for the artist (he took home three CMAs in 2015 for best new artist, male vocalist of the year and album of the year), who has long written hits for fellow country stars.

Kelsea Ballerini

ACM Category:

New Female Vocalist

Who Was She Up Against? Cam, Mickey Guyton and RaeLynn

Songs You’ll Love: “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs” and the newly released “Peter Pan” are all feel-good songs that will have you singing them over and over again, all day long (not like that’s a bad thing.)

Fun Fact: It was just announced a few days ago on Twitter – the 22-year-old newcomer will be joined onstage at the ACMs by Nick Jonas for what will most likely be an unforgettable performance.

Why She Deserved the Win: Ballerini is a force to be reckoned with in the country music world! The artist joins a select group of women (Hello, Faith Hill!) whose first two singles reached number one. For Ballerini, those songs are “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Dibs” – did we mention she’s only 22?

Old Dominion

ACM Category:

New Vocal Group

Who Were They Up Against? A Thousand Horses, Brothers Osborne, Maddie & Tae and Parmalee

Songs You’ll Love: Trust us when we say playing “Break Up with Him” one time will undeniably lead to an hour-long listening session. It’s just too catchy.

Fun Fact: Old Dominion is also up for another ACM Award, for vocal group of the year.

Why They Deserved the Win: Much like fellow winner Stapleton, the band members of Old Dominion have also penned songs for solo acts like Kenny Chesney, Chris Young and Bentley, to name a few.

Old Dominion has also proven to score a wide range of fans, particularly non-country music fans, which speaks to their versatility as a musical group. “One of our favorite things we get a lot from people at our shows is, ‘You know what, I don’t even like country music, but I like you guys,”‘ Trevor Rosen, the band’s multi-instrumentalist, tells Southeast Missourian.