Backstage at the 56th ACMs: Luke’s surprised, Dan + Shay are pre-recorded, and TR & Dierks are cutting up

Backstage in the virtual ACM Awards press room, country stars looked anxiously toward a horizon that promises a return to touring, while taking part in a socially-distanced show that was still much the same as the 55th ACMs last September.

Luke Bryan reacted to his surprise win for Entertainer of the Year from Los Angeles, after coming down with COVID-19 prevented him from performing and taking part in the show in person.

Duo of the Year winners Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney both joined from home, revealing that Dan + Shay‘s performance had been pre-recorded a day earlier, accounting for the technical difficulties some fans noticed during “Glad You Exist.” 

Single of the Year winner Carly Pearce was anxious to call her mom and dad, while her “I Hope You’re Happy Now” duet partner Lee Brice bragged on Blake Shelton‘s performance. 

Female Artist and Song of the Year winner Maren Morris had nothing but praise for co-host Mickey Guyton, going on to admit her steamy performance of “Chasing After You” was one she could only do with husband Ryan Hurd

Thomas Rhett confessed Dierks Bentley was cracking him up as he took the stage to accept his Male Artist trophy, though he declined to cough up exactly what Dierks had said. Group of the Year Old Dominion revealed they’d shared some playful banter with fellow nominees The Cadillac Three prior to winning for the fourth consecutive time.  

Lots of artists were focused on their families, as TR wished his wife and daughter could’ve been there. Chris Stapleton revealed wife Morgane was missing because his sister-in-law was in labor, while new mom Gabby Barrett confessed this was really the first time she’s left her daughter Baylah, who was born in January. 

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