Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood and other nominees for Entertainer of the Year kicked off the 2020 Academy of Country Music Awards with a medley of their hits in Nashville, Tennessee.
Bryan and Underwood, the only woman nominated in the category, both performed their songs from the iconic Grand Ole Opry, but one thing was missing: an audience.
Despite no cheering or applause, both performed stirring renditions of two classic songs from their catalogs. Underwood belted "Before He Cheats," her huge breakup hit from 2005. Bryan also chose an oldie but goodie, performing his 2010 tune "Rain Is A Good Thing."
Bryan said to the empty seats, "We're gonna get you dancing tonight!"
Eric Church, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett performed as well from various locations around Nashville. The awards were broadcast from three iconic spots in Nashville: the Grand Ole Opry, the Bluebird Cafe and the Ryman Auditorium.
Due to the pandemic, the Academy of Country Music Awards postponed their annual awards show that was originally scheduled for April 5 in Las Vegas.
Keith Urban will serve as the show's host for the first time ever. Kane Brown, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Riley Green, Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Mickey Guyton, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Taylor Swift, Tenille Townes, Morgan Wallen and Trisha Yearwood are all slated to perform as well.
"(I'm excited) that the show's going on!" Urban told People. "It was a challenge to figure out how we were going to do this with no audience and not in Las Vegas and not in April. But we'll be in Nashville, and I'll be live at the Grand Ole Opry. We'll also have artists at the Bluebird Cafe and Ryman Auditorium. It's going to be a fun night."
Urban said the three locations are "equally magical" to perform at "for different reasons."
"The Opry, it's sacred," he said. "The Ryman Auditorium is just so hallow — that stage, that venue is probably the best sounding venue I've ever played at in my life, and I've heard other artists say that, including Chris Martin from Coldplay. It's an amazing sounding venue. I saw Coldplay play at the Ryman Auditorium on one of their first tours in the states — it was extraordinary."