Sunday, April 6, 2014

ACM Awards final curtain call at MGM Grand Garden Arena?

It was nine years ago that I worked my first Academy of Country Music Awards. I was standing in for Carrie Underwood (among others), and back then she was only known as the winner of American Idol. But with her first single Jesus Take the Wheel rising up the charts, it wouldn't be long before that changed for good. Listening to her perform that song at rehearsals it was obvious that she was born to be a star. Nine years later it's hard to imagine she ever wasn't!

I've had the privilege to witness many artists like her go from excited newbies to seasoned pros and everything in between.....It's a great inside perspective and a fun part of the job.

Carrie Underwood 2005.....Photo by via

Back then Darius Rucker was still "Hootie" to most people and now he is now more known as a country music artist than anything else. Taylor Swift was 12 years old and dreaming while she wrote her little songs hoping to get a record deal someday. Nobody had ever really heard of Jason Aldean. There was no "Miranda and Blake." Brooks and Dunn were still together. Facebook had just launched the year before and social media was not part of national television advertising or promotions.

Since then and during the nine years working this show, besides standing in for Carrie every year I have accepted and presented awards for "Best New Artist", "Song of the Year", "Best Female Artist", "Entertainer of the Year", and more. I have danced onstage with Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton, to name a few. I have performed as Carrie Underwood with my sister Karen next to me as Miranda Lambert and done Reba McEntire's job  (as her rehearsal host), before she arrived.

Now at this year's ACM Awards I am feeling a little nostalgic because I found out the show next year, which will be the 50th Anniversary, is going to be be held and broadcast live from Dallas. So I won't be working on it. I'm sure they'll all enjoy the change of pace, but they will be back here very soon.

ACM Stand in/Rehearsal Actors group selfie....Scott, Anna, Heather, Phil, Brian, Karen, Rusty

According to reliable sources quoted in the Las Vegas Review Journal this past Thursday, the ACM Awards will be back in Las Vegas for its 51st...Better yet, it is expected to be one of the very first events held in the brand new mega arena that is going to be built by MGM Resorts International and AEG. This 20,000 seat arena will be placed near the Monte Carlo and New York New York properties and is set to break ground later this month, and be completed in the spring of 2016.

The only thing constant is change and with that in mind I will enjoy what will likely be the last Academy of Country Music Awards in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Hats off to you, you've been a great host!

Digital rendering of new Las Vegas 20,000 seat arena by MGM Resorts Int'l and


Las Vegas Review Journal, November 5, 2013 and April 3, 2014 issues

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