By James Barker, Staff Writer
The Academy of Country Music Awards nominations are out, with just enough diversity for the organization to satisfy itself that it has addressed the conversations about racism, equality and inclusion in America and the country music industry over the past few months, while leaving the industry’s conservative foundations in place.
Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen and John Legend all deserve their nominations, although Guyton deserved nods in the Album and Song categories as well as Best New Female Artist of the Year. Let’s hope Allen and Guyton’s New Artist nominations lead to further nominations in the future, though it must be mentioned that Guyton has been working in the industry for years, and many other talented Black artists have been pushed out of the industry before even getting to this point.
It’s wonderful to see Brothers’ Osborne, a half-gay duo, nominated in Album of the Year as well as Duo of the Year (they were nominated for the latter award at last year’s CMAs as well). Out artist Brandi Carlile is nominated as part of The Highwomen for Group of the Year, and out songwriter Shane McAnally is nominated for Songwriter of the Year as well as garnering noms in two separate Song of the Year nominees.
LGBTQ+ artists are having an effect on the way mainstream country music sounds and it is gratifying to see this recognized. However, the ACM nominations are still very limited, with Brandy Clark’s stellar My Life is a Record being a particularly glaring oversight. The lack of anyone apart from white straight men in the Entertainer of the Year category also suggests that certain oppressive hierarchies are well and truly in place.
There are some glimmers here, but we need much more, and much quicker.