ACM Awards: Thomas Rhett’s Career Gets Another Major Boost

Other Winners Include Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne, Little Big Town

Thomas Rhett’s already-impressive career got another major boost when he won male vocalist and song of the year honors Sunday night (April 2) at the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.

Rhett wasn’t the only artist to receive two awards from the ACM this year, but having released only two albums — the first being 2013’s It Goes Like This — the male vocalist victory and a songwriter credit for “Die a Happy Man” carry significant weight.

In addition to Jason Aldean’s win as entertainer of the year, trophies were also accepted by Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne and Little Big Town.

The song of the year trophy was the first one Rhett accepted Sunday night.

“Thank you to my beautiful wife — my beautiful pregnant wife Lauren — over there,” he said. “The song’s inspiration was because of you.”

After thanking his co-writers — Joe Spargur and Sean Douglas — Rhett added, “I’m overwhelmed. I didn’t think this was gonna happen.”

He later seemed genuinely shocked when he won the male vocalist honor in a field of nominees that included Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban and Aldean.

“I don’t have a whole lot of words, except for everyone in this category are my idols,” Rhett said. “Everyone in this category shaped the artist that I am. …

“Thank you so much to the ACM. This is the most amazing award that I’ve ever received in my whole existence. …. Thank you to the Lord for putting me in this situation to be up here tonight. This is a very humbling experience.”

Aldean appeared to be humbled not only by his second ACM entertainer of the year award, but also by the fact that Joe Walsh presented the trophy.

“One of the Eagles just gave me an award,” he said. “That’s probably the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. Man, I am so thankful. You guys don’t know how much I love getting up and doing what I do every day.”

Aldean also acknowledged his history and friendships with fellow entertainer of the year nominees Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood.

“It’s such an amazing group of artists,” he said. “I’m just glad I get to be a part of it.”

Brothers Osborne pulled an impressive feat at this year’s ACM Awards. After an early win in March as the Academy’s new vocal duo or group of the year, they edged out Florida Georgia Line, Big & Rich, Dan + Shay and Maddie & Tae as the overall duo of the year.

“What is happening right now?” TJ Osborne told the crowd. “This is amazing. We have the best seats in the house. I don’t even know how we got invited to sit up front. …. Our parents are here tonight, I’m gonna thank them because, honestly, they believed in us since the time we were babies. They’re amazing.”

“God bless country music!” John Osborne said.

Other winners announced last month included new female vocalist Maren Morris and new male vocalist Jon Pardi.

Miranda Lambert also won in two categories — album of the year for The Weight of These Wings and female vocalist.

“I just want to say thank you for letting me use my heartbreak and share it with me,” Lambert said in accepting the award for The Weight of These Wings, produced by Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf and Eric Masse.

Two of the producers said lessons can be learned from Miranda and her album.

“Guys, any young songwriters out there, tell the truth,” Liddell said. “It’s more interesting.”

“The best music is made from the heart,” Worf added. “And Miranda brought her heart to this record.”

In accepting the female vocalist award, Lambert pointed to the talents of fellow nominees Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris.

“I’m just glad to see females kicking ass these days,” she said. “I’m so proud to be part of that. So here’s to all us girls out here dreaming.”

In being named vocal group of the year, Little Big Town spent part of its acceptance speech praising Lady Antebellum’s horn-laden performance of “You Look Good.”

“I just want to be in Lady Antebellum’s band,” Kimberly Schlapman said.

After agreeing with her bandmate’s assessment, Karen Fairchild made a reference to audience member Nicole Kidman’s HBO series by saying, “Nineteen seconds. Hurry! We have to hurry the whole show tonight because we have to see the finale of Big Little Lies. Country fans, you give us life. We love you.”

Video of the year honors went to “Forever Country,” an all-star medley of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” The project was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the ACM’s competing awards shows, the Nashville-based CMA Awards.

Other ACM Awards announced during the weekend included Lori McKenna for songwriter of the year. Florida Georgia Line also received single record of the year honors for “H.O.L.Y.” and shared vocal event honors with Tim McGraw for “May We All.”

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.