LAS VEGAS — For those of us who routinely cover events like the ACM Awards , which were held in Las Vegas on Sunday night (April 5), the pressroom is nothing special — just some computers, a couple of TVs and a few dozen jaded journalists. Trace Adkins, however, hesitated at the microphone before fielding questions.
“So this is what the winners’ room looks like,” he deadpanned.
Despite a decade-long career, Adkins is perennially overlooked by industry awards, but he finally broke the dry spell when “You’re Gonna Miss This” won the ACM trophy for single of the year.
Asked about his heartfelt acceptance speech, Adkins replied, “Like I said, that was the truth. I recorded that song because it was so poignant to me at that moment, when my daughter got married, and I just thought that it was so sensitive and so mushy, and I didn’t really want it to be a single. I didn’t really want to expose myself as being such a mush, you know? So we put it on a greatest hits album as a bonus track.”
When that album’s lead single, “I Got My Game On,” stalled at country radio, Adkins still hadn’t completed his new album. As a result, Mike Dungan, the top executive at Capitol Nashville, informed Adkins they needed to release “You’re Gonna Miss This” to fill the gap.
“I said, ‘Knock yourself out, but it’s not going to work. They’re not going to play it,’” Adkins recalls. “It stayed No. 1 for three weeks, so what the f**k do I know?”
When the laughter died down among the reporters, Adkins continued, “So that’s how it goes. I was shocked, and I still am today, at the wonderful things this song has done for me. The different groups and categories who come to me and say the song has touched them, from young ladies who may have just gotten married and didn’t even realize how they were breaking their fathers’ hearts until they heard this song, and then the fathers … telling me the same thing. On and on and on. People watching their little kids, and things that used to really get on their nerves, now they just smile and think about that song.”
Brad Paisley was in Nashville awaiting on the birth of his second child, but he stayed on satellite long enough to talk about his three ACM victories — for vocal event (“Start a Band” with Keith Urban), video (“Waitin’ on a Woman,” co-starring Andy Griffith) and male vocalist.
“The video of the year was a big deal because I had my favorite TV actor, Andy Griffith, in there,” Paisley said. “It was really something that I took very seriously because we had to be true to his legend. While we were making that video, I thought, ‘This has to be an award-winning video. It just has to be — just the fact that Andy Griffith agreed to do this.’
“And then for the vocal event, I was so proud of that. I was so proud of Keith and what we accomplished together. I think you saw a side of each of us that you never see — which is the ‘two geeks at a guitar store’ side of us — two guys willing to let down their guard, forget about everything and just play and have a ball. That was the case with the video and the track on that. I love any time there’s some kind of collaboration when you’re involved with wonderful, high-class people like this. And to win male vocalist third year in a row … I’m certainly floored by that, and I am very, very, very honored.”
“It’s been pretty overwhelming,” bassist Jay DeMarcus said. “It’s been an emotional night, to say the least. Alabama is one of our greatest heroes and such big footsteps to follow in, let alone to try to fill. You start out singing as a kid with a Goody comb in your hand, and you dream these types of dreams, but to be able to live them in reality is more than we could have ever hoped for when we started this thing 10 years ago.”
DeMarcus also received one of the biggest laughs of the night when the conversation turned to Jessica Simpson, who recently wrapped a tour with them. Referring to the close scrutiny Simpson receives in celebrity magazines and on the Internet, he said, “I got a little bloated on the tour, and nobody put a picture of me in a magazine.”
Sugarland was asked if they had planned on world domination when they launched their career. They cheerfully confessed that it was on their agenda, but as Jennifer Nettles said, “You just don’t know if it’s possible until you get in there. But I knew we were hard workers and we had the drive. There is something to be said for manifesting and for hard work and a little bit of luck. I don’t know what the recipe is. I wish there was a book that said, ‘This is how to do this, and do it well,’ but that might take the magic out of it.”
Nettles also received a Crystal Milestone award in recognition of writing “Stay,” which won song of the year last year. It was the first time since 1972 that a female solo songwriter had won in that category.
“Obviously, as a songwriter, it’s a pretty high honor,” Nettles said. “And in country music, being a storyteller and being a songwriter, the song itself carries so much weight in the genre. To be honored for that is a super, super big accomplishment and a big deal and quite flattering and humbling all at the same time. So I am pleased. As a songwriter, you hope to have a song do as well as that one has, and now you hope that you can have another one again.”
View photos and other coverage from the ACM Awards.