Country Music Elite Getting Ready for ACM Awards in Las Vegas

Reba McEntire Hosts the Show, Several Prize Winners Already Announced

Artists, music executives and fans are gathering in Las Vegas for Sunday night's (April 5) Academy of Country Music Awards Show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. With Reba McEntire hosting the show for the 11th time, the event will be broadcast on CBS-TV at 8 p.m. ET.

Rehearsals are continuing for the show, with Jamey Johnson, John Rich, Lady Antebellum, Lee Ann Womack and Heidi Newfield having rehearsed their performances on Thursday (April 2). Among the other acts scheduled to perform on the three-hour special include McEntire, Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney, Miley Cyrus, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Sugarland, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

The awards will be presented by Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Billy Ray Cyrus, actor-musician Jamie Foxx, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jack Ingram, Martina McBride, actor Matthew McConaughey, model Marisa Miller, Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker and Blake Shelton.

Fan votes will determine winners of the entertainer of the year and top new artist honors.

Strait and Paisley are among the top nominees this year, and Paisley has already won the ACM's top video prize for "Waitin' on a Woman" and top vocal event trophy for "Start a Band," his duet with Keith Urban. The winners in those two categories were announced Tuesday (March 31).

It has also been announced that fan votes have proclaimed Julianne Hough, Jake Owen and the Zac Brown Band the top new female vocalist, top male vocalist and top new vocal duo or group, respectively. The three are now vying for top new artist.

LeAnn Rimes will be saluted as winner of the ACM/The Home Depot Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Winners in the Academy's special awards and MBI (music, band, instrumental) categories will be recognized at ceremonies in Nashville on Sept. 22. These include Dolly Parton (winner of the Jim Reeves International Award) Merle Haggard and the late Harlan Howard (recipients of the Poet's Award) and Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Hank Williams Jr. and the late Jerry Reed (winners of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award).

The day following the awards show, a host of country music's top performers will reconvene at the MGM Grand to tape a tribute to George Strait, the ACM's Artist of the Decade. It will air on CBS-TV on May 27.

Such spinoffs from high-profile entertainment events are becoming commonplace methods of maximizing publicity and on-hand talent. Each year, the CMA Music Festival yields material for an ABC-TV special that's broadcast in late summer or fall, just in time to whip up enthusiasm for the Country Music Awards.

This past December, instead of announcing its Grammy nominees through a conventional press conference, the Recording Academy did so via a TV special dubbed The Grammy Nominations Concert Live -- Countdown to Music's Biggest Night.

View photos and additional coverage from the ACM Awards.

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