33rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards

There’s not another show like it — never has been and never will be. The 33rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards telecast is already gearing up for its yearly toast to the most in country music.

Set to air live tonight at 8:00 Eastern from Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheatre on the CBS Television Network, this year’s awards gala promises a thrill of a lifetime. A few changes and surprises, however, are penciled into this year’s awards show forecast. For starters, don’t expect the usual comfort of hosts with the most — this year’s show will have none. According to the Academy, the new “no-host” format, quite similar to that of the annual Golden Globes, will allow for a quicker-paced show and a lot more star power. The count of top country stars, in addition to surprising country legends, a touch of Hollywood glitz and even some former U.S. presidents currently stands at 60-plus and still counting.

Multi-ACM-winners Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn will debut their new single “If You See Him/If You See Her” on this year’s show. The tri-et is the first collaborative recording for the two acts. The single will appear on both of their individual forthcoming releases with a coinciding joint-venture video coming soon to CMT.

Plus the biggest selling solo artist in U.S. history, Garth Brooks, and guitar wizard/singer Steve Wariner have been the latest tapped to perform on the three-hour spectacular. Brooks and Wariner will debut their new duet, a follow-up to the scorching-hot “Longneck Bottle,” the single that launched Brooks’ Sevens phenomenon. Young country sensation Bryan White and country’s honky-tonk rocker Dwight Yoakam team up to honor some late country music greats, and Marty Stuart pairs up again with former duet partner Travis Tritt to help salute this year’s Pioneer Award winner along with the help of some former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

While a long and winding list of practically all of today’s hottest country artists will make their way onto the ACM stage, a string of legendary performances is sure to set off rockets. If you’re thinking along the lines of the great Glen Campbell, Donna Fargo and Buck Owens, you’re right on target.

What never misses the target at the ACM Awards is its aim to give the viewing audience at home an entertainment lineup that can’t be matched — featuring both country name power at its best and what’s become somewhat “ACM tradition” — incorporating a dash of Hollywood spice to the country pot. This year’s seasoning is whipped up with the likes of actress Jane Seymour, Patrick Swayze, Lisa Hartman Black and Miss USA Shawnae Jebbia, among many others. Seymour and country icon Barbara Mandrell have been tapped to present this year’s coveted Entertainer of the Year honors.

Additionally, entertainment icon and executive producer of the show Dick Clark will be offering reports and interviewing many of the winners live from backstage during the telecast.

During the television special, awards will be presented to the Top Male Vocalist, Top Female Top Vocal Duet or Group, Top New Male Vocalist, Top New Female Vocalist, Top New Vocal Duet or Group, and for Top Vocal Event, Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Video of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. Also presented on the special will be the Academy’s Pioneer Award, which is presented for outstanding and unprecedented achievement in the field of country music, and the Special Achievement Award, which goes to an individual for unprecedented, unique and outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the preceding calendar year.

This year’s top nominee, Tim McGraw, whose name will be read in a whopping six categories, will often be accompanied by his wife and recent duet partner Faith Hill. Four of McGraw’s six ACM nods stem from his and Hill’s duet smash “It’s Your Love” Hill, herself, is also up for those four trophies as well. McGraw leads the nomination pack for Entertainer of the Year, Top Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for Everywhere, and Single of the Year, Country Video of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year for “It’s Your Love,” performed with Faith Hill. “It’s Your Love” is also nominated in the Song of the Year category, which is presented to the writer. McGraw already has two ACM trophies under his belt — 1994 trophies for both the ACM Album of the Year and Top New Male Vocalist.

Both George Strait and Trisha Yearwood take on the second-place spot for this year’s nominations, each having four. Strait, who’s collected seven ACM honors in previous years, is again up for Entertainer of the Year, Top Male Vocalist Album of the Year for Carrying Your Love With Me and Single of the Year for “Carrying Your Love With Me.”

Yearwood is also no stranger to accepting the ACM trophy. She took home 1991’s Top New Female Vocalist honor. This year, she’s in the lineup for for Top Female Vocalist, Single of the Year for “How Do I Live,” Song of the Year for “How Do I Live” and Vocal Event of the Year for “In Another’s Eyes,” a duet with Garth Brooks. Other multiple nominee artists include Deana Carter, Patty Loveless, Garth Brooks, LeAnn Rimes and Diamond Rio.

The CBS telecast is a dick clark production, inc. presentation, and a show that promises to be one we’ll never forget.

Discover what makes each of this year’s nominees worthy of taking home an ACM trophy by checking out this in-depth focus on the artists and songs in each category.