ACM Awards: Backstage Finishing Touches

Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini and Others Elaborate After Their Wins

There never seems to be enough time to say what you want to say during an acceptance speech.

Fortunately, at Sunday’s (April 3) Academy of Country Music Awards, the winners were able to complete their thoughts when they came backstage to pick up their trophies.

And here are some of the highlights:

Thomas Rhett on hearing his name called: “I’ve always wondered what it actually feels like when people do walk up there and accept awards. And the body rush that I got when they called my name — me and (wife) Lauren just looked at each other, and we were like, ’I cannot believe that just happened.’ To have a song so personal to have the success it did was pretty amazing.”

Kelsea Ballerini on the changes in country: “I think the coolest thing about country radio right now is that you can turn it on and hear Chris Stapleton and then you can hear Sam Hunt and then you can hear Dolly Parton and then me and then Kacey Musgraves. It’s country in the heartbeat of every song, but there’s other influences, and it’s super-obvious. And I think it’s allowing more people to listen to country music.”

Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild on touring with Luke Bryan: “He’s so genuine. It’s like there’s no filter between him and the crowd. And they adore him. And there’s so much to be said for that authentic connection from an artist to a fan, and nobody does it better than Luke.”

Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard on how they stay grounded: “Both of our wives, first and foremost. They’re amazing girls and really keep us grounded. And then the Lord, obviously. We try to spend time in prayer every day and really stay in focus and ask Him, ’Hey, I need some strength here. Keep me humble, keep me grounded, keep me motivated.’ We try to use our voice for the positive. It’s fun to find that purpose and chase it.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.