In a Surprise Call, These Two New Artists Win Early ACM Awards

Keith Urban asks them to perform on show

Keith Urban has surprised Riley Green and Tenille Townes -- as well as country fans -- by revealing the winners in the ACM New Male Artist and New Female Artist categories.

The Academy of Country Music revealed Green as the New Male Artist of the Year and Townes as the New Female Artist of the Year for the 55th Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards. The event will air on September 16 on CBS, and will be available to stream on demand on CBS All Access. Both new artists will perform on the telecast.

Riley Green broke out in a big way with "There Was This Girl," while Tenille Townes has earned positive attention for singles like "Jersey on the Wall (I'm Just Asking)." Both songs reached No. 1 at country radio in Canada.

“When we had to come off the road back in March, I wasn’t sure what the rest of 2020 would look like,” Green said in a statement. “So much has happened in the world since then and I’m really excited to have a moment to play music again. My grandfathers’ love for country music is what led me to this moment and I have to dedicate this award to them. Thank you to everyone who believes in my music enough to let this boy from Alabama get to share his songs like this.”

“I’ll always remember this feeling, standing here as a new artist,” Townes said in a statement. “I feel so honored and incredibly grateful just to be a part of this country music community that inspires me. Receiving this ACM Award feels like belief from that community, and that means so much to me.”

Other nominees in the New Male Artist category were Jordan Davis, Russell Dickerson, Cody Johnson, and Morgan Wallen. The New Female Artist category included Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Lindsay Ell, and Caylee Hammack.

Green and Townes were each surprised with the news of their wins during a video meeting crashed by reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban, who will host the ACM Awards this year.

For the first time in the show’s history, the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will take place in Nashville, broadcasting from three iconic venues including the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.

“This year’s New Artists have experienced astounding success already, and the Academy feels honored to be able to present them with their first ACM Award win,” said Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “We hope this is a memory that they will carry with them as their careers continue to thrive."

He added, "A huge congratulations to all of this year’s well-deserving nominees and a special thank you to the artists’ teams who helped the Academy pull off the surprise, especially our host Keith Urban for making this moment monumental. We can’t wait to see Riley and Tenille on the 55th ACM Awards stage on September 16!”

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