Thomas Rhett: Backstage at ACM Awards

"This Is Not Happening"

Thomas Rhett’s intuition isn’t always right.

Like on Sunday night (April 2) at the Academy of Country Music Awards, he was wrong about who would win male vocalist of the year and song of the year.

“Going into the night, my wife and I usually have a hunch if we think we’re even in the running for an award or we don’t have a chance at all,” he said backstage after the show.

“And I think we both thought we had no chance for either of those awards. Maybe that was me selling myself short,” he said.

When they called his name, he said, he almost couldn’t leave his seat.

“I just looked at Lauren and said, ’This is not happening. And I’m not going.’ And she kept hitting my leg saying, ’Go! Get up there!’ That was super surreal. …

“I still don’t know what to say. I’m still processing that,” he said, specifically about the male vocalist win. “Because all the people in that category are people I respect and look up to more than anyone else in the world. Those people have made me want to be a better singer.”

It was just as surreal when they called hia name for the song of the year for “Die a Happy Man,” which he wrote with Sean Douglas and Joe Spargur.

Winning that ACM Award is special, he explained, because he is first and foremost a songwriter.

“And I think that’s the coolest award I could be given as a songwriter,” he said.

He devoted some of his backstage remarks to his father, singer-songwriter Rhett Akins.

“When I think about who taught me to sing in the first place, it was my dad,” he said. “Still to this day, I think that my dad is one of the best songwriters and best performers that I’ve ever gotten to witness.

“And so being able to watch him write songs at 8 years old, go on the road with him at 9 years old and get to sing in his encores on the road, I feel like that has been the main influence on me vocally and me as a songwriter and as a performer.

“I owe dad a lot of credit for that, for sure.”

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