Roll out the red carpet, rosin the bows and shine the trophies. The fifth annual Arkansas Country Music Awards takes place Monday at Reynolds Music Hall in Conway.
Nominees are up for awards in 26 categories, including Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist, Album, Video, Bluegrass and Inspirational. Several of the nominees will perform during the show, as will country hitmakers Lee Ann Womack, Shawn Camp, Jeannie Seely, Allen Frizzell, Jason Coleman and more.
Country music journalist Charles Haymes and Miss Arkansas Ashton Gill 2014 return as hosts this year.
Erin Enderlin is nominated in four categories: artist, video, songwriter and country artist. The ACMAs have been good for the Conway native, who has received more nominations (28) and won more wins (11) than anyone else in the show’s four-year run. Fun Fact: Enderlin has won Songwriter of the Year four times, making him the only person to ever receive this award.
But Enderlin is not the most nominated artist this year. Ozark native Lance Carpenter leads the pack with five nominations – Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist, Country Artist, Songwriter and Songwriter. Carpenter knows a little more about the win: The 40-year-old won Male Vocalist last year and Country Artist in 2019.
Receiving five nominations this year “was a surprise,” said Carpenter of Nashville, Tennessee, where he has lived since 2011. “I’m always surprised when I hear I’ve been nominated for something. The chance to represent the country music and my home country is a great honor for me.”
Nominated for Song of the Year is “God Wears Boots,” which Carpenter wrote with Joey Ebach. The inspiration for the track came in part from a sign that hung on the back porch of Carpenter’s mother’s house.
“He says, ‘Unless you’re God or George Strait, take your boots off before you come into the house. I thought, ‘Hmmm, God wears boots,’ and took that idea to [Ebach]. He thought it was something worth pursuing and we recorded it in a day.”
The song was released on Carpenter’s “Demo Sessions” project beginning in 2021. A new single, “I Bought a Bar,” will be released on June 24, but on Monday he performs “One Like That,” another track from the ” Demo Sessions”. “
While the Natural State has several country talents making waves in the mainstream – Ashley McBryde, Matt Stell and Justin Moore, to name a few – the ACMAs recognize independent musicians who are not affiliated with any major labels.
“It warms my heart every time I’m nominated,” Carpenter said. “What [ACMA President] Nathan Hunnicutt and Charles Haymes and everyone else did behind the scenes, it’s amazing.”
BEST FEMALE VOCALIST
Like Carpenter, singer-songwriter Mae Estes left Arkansas to pursue her musical dreams in Nashville. She is the title singer of the year and is nominated again in this category.
Estes, 28, grew up in Hope and comes from a musical family. She was only 7 years old when she made her first public performance, singing the national anthem at a rodeo.
“I said to my mom, ‘You don’t have to play that LeAnn Rimes tape, I can do it,'” she laughs. “It was tragic, but that’s where it all started.”
Her victory last year was “unbelievable”, she said. “It was my first awards show, so it was a dream come true. And everything that happens in Arkansas is even more special. The state, Hope and my family will always be a big part of me. “
Estes will perform his latest single, “Thinkin’https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/jun/05/and-the-winner-is/”Bout Cheatin”, during the show and is particularly excited about the idea of being on stage in front of one of his heroes, Lee Ann Womack, whose hits include “I Hope You Dance”, https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/jun/05/and-the- winner-is/ “The Fool”, https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/jun/05/and-the-winner-is/”A Little Past Little Rock” and others.
“I’m completely losing my mind,” Estes says. “People like Keith Whitley, Loretta Lynn and Vern Gosdin have helped shape who I am as an artist, and they’re her heroes too. I’ve clung to her and love the career she’s built. “
Womack will perform as part of a tribute to Mark Wright, the Fayetteville native and recording executive who produced albums by her, Clint Black, Mark Chesnutt and others.
Wright is honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award along with Arkansas country legends Lefty Frizzell and Floyd Cramer, and beloved Little Rock country disc jockey Bob Robbins, who died May 21 at age 78.
Robbins spent 34 years at Little Rock radio station KSSN and has worked at 105.1 “The Wolf” since 2013. He was named Broadcast Personality of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1996.
Frizzell, who died in 1975 at the age of 47, got his start in music when his family lived in El Dorado and became a popular regional band. He then recorded classics “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time)”, https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/jun/05/and-the-winner-is/ “I love you in a thousand ways,”https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/jun/05/and-the-winner-is/”Long Black Veil,”https://www.nwaonline. com /news/2022/jun/05/and-the-winner-is/”Always Late with Your Kisses” and “Saginaw, Michigan”, and influenced generations of country musicians.
Cramer, a pianist, grew up in Huttig and played on the Louisiana Hayride. His playing can be heard on hits like Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”, Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Hank Locklin’s “Please Help Me, I’m Falling”. He has recorded with Charley Pride, Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison, Ray Price and others and had his own hits including the instrumental classic “Last Date”. He died in 1997 at age 64 and was inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cramer’s grandson, Jason Coleman, will perform on Monday, as will Frizzell’s brother, Allen.
LEGENDS AND NEWCOMERS
Haymes notes that two Nashville legends are also up for the awards from Arkansas.
Singer Pam Tillis is nominated in the Video category for her work behind the camera as director of The Render Sisters”https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/jun/05/and-the-winner-is /”Small Spaces,” and Grand Ole Opry member Jeannie Seely is among the Song of the Year nominees for “Yours,” which was performed by Diane Berry and Joe Wade Smith.
There are plenty of newcomers to this year’s hopefuls, including Sylamore Special, a young band from Mountain View named Artist of the Year, Bluegrass Artist and Young Artist. The group formed last year and is made up of teenagers Mary Parker, Gordon Parker, Mercy Grace, Turner Atwell and Lillyanne McCool.
Their debut single, “This Old Barn”, was written by Mary Parker and released in January. The band will perform the track on Monday’s show.
“To be nominated for just one award would have been mind-blowing,” she says. “To see our name listed under three nominations was definitely unexpected.”
Fifth Annual Arkansas Country Music Awards
- 6:30-9:30 p.m. MondayReynolds Performance Hall, 223 Beatrice Powell Street, Conway
- Admission: $35 to $100
- Information: arkansasmusic.org