ACM Awards 2021: Keith Urban Surprises Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett with New Artist of the Year
The country stars were surprised with the honors ahead of the April 18 show, receiving video messages from the ceremony's co-host Keith Urban.
"Stop playin'!" Allen, 34, exclaimed after he watched the video from Urban, 53, jumping up from his seat in the studio and pacing excitedly with a giant smile on his face before sitting down to watch the video again in an effort to soak it all in.
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Barrett, 21, couldn't resist letting out a scream of delight upon being congratulated by Urban in her video and told the camera person after getting visibly emotional, "Oh my gosh, now I know why you told me to put on my makeup and get dressed!"
"I don't really know what to say — this is unbelievable," continued the American Idol alum. "Thank you so much; this is such an honor. Ever since I came into the country-music community, everybody's been absolutely wonderful to me."
In a release, Academy of Country Music CEO Damon Whiteside said, "We are thrilled to present Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett with their first ACM Award wins. Jimmie and Gabby have experienced tremendous success at both Country Radio and streaming already, and we are proud to recognize them for such an extraordinary start to their careers."
"A huge congratulations to each of them for this well-deserved win, and to all of our nominees for being recognized for their incredible contributions to Country Music," Whiteside added. "We look forward to welcoming Jimmie and Gabby to the ACM Awards stage on April 18."
Allen and Barrett are set to perform during the show that will see an extensive star-studded lineup including Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan Kenny Chesney, Maren Morris and Urban's co-host Guyton, 37.
Leading the nominations at this year's awards are Morris, 30, and Chris Stapleton, with six nominations each. Trailing closely behind is Miranda Lambert with five nominations and Ashley McBryde and Thomas Rhett, 31, with four nods each.
The 2021 ACM Awards are set to air live from the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe on Sunday, April 18, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.