LeAnn Rimes and Julianne Hough React to ACM Honors

Both Singers Writing Songs for Their Next Albums

LeAnn Rimes had to feign surprise and Julianne Hough appeared on the verge of turning into a sunbeam when their names were read during the announcement of the nominees for the Academy of Country Music Awards. The nominations were revealed Wednesday morning (Feb. 11) at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.

Rimes was named recipient of the Academy’s Home Depot Humanitarian Award, while Hough learned that she will be competing for the top new female vocalist prize with Sarah Buxton and Ashton Shepherd.

In a barrage of blondes, Rimes and Hough joined Kellie Pickler and Jessica Simpson to announce the nominees on a live segment of CBS-TV’s The Early Show. Maggie Rodriguez hosted the segment.

Although the situation called for her to express surprise, Rimes knew beforehand she had been singled out for the humanitarian distinction. In a news release circulated to the media just after her win was revealed, Rimes said, “I’m honored that the Home Depot and the Academy have chosen to recognize my work and spread awareness of the worthy causes that inspire me.”

Further reducing her ability to register surprise at the proper moment, Rimes told CMT.com, was the fact that she saw her name roll up on the Teleprompter an instant before Rodriguez began reading it on the air.

Rimes has been particularly active in children’s causes, including the Children’s Miracle Network, for which she served as international spokesperson, and Camp C.O.P.E., which teaches children of wounded veterans how to deal with their parents’ infirmities.

First known for her appearances on Dancing With the Stars, Hough marveled at how readily the country music community has embraced her. “Everybody’s been so welcoming,” she said. “I’ve had an amazing year and a-half.”

Speaking to reporters later, Hough was radiant when she reflected on her impending tour with one of country’s most durable superstars. “There’s nothing bigger than going out [on tour] with George Strait,” she bubbled, “and the fact that he asked me to be on his tour.”

Hough was equally sunny in her reminiscences of touring last year with Brad Paisley, who, she reported, “was on the same energy level every night.”

Lately, Hough has been co-writing material for her next album with such lyrical luminaries as Jeffrey Steele, Dave Berg, Kelley Lovelace, Wendell Mobley and her fellow recording artist and boyfriend, Chuck Wicks.

Rimes said she will return to the studio next month with producer Dann Huff to begin recording her next album. She co-wrote all the songs on her current CD, Family, and noted she has also co-written most of the material for the upcoming project.

Rimes and co-writer Darrell Brown have an inspirational book due out in April called What I Cannot Change, based on their song of the same name. Rimes also stars as a bush pilot in Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights, a murder mystery movie airing March 21 on the Lifetime channel.

The Academy of Country Music Awards takes place April 5 in Las Vegas and will be broadcast live on CBS.

See the list of this year’s ACM nominees and photos from the press conference.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.