Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen are already big winners at the 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards … and the ceremony hasn’t even happened yet!
Before Sunday’s ceremony, Keith Urban, who is splitting the hosting duties with Mickey Guyton, recorded a personalized video card for Barrett and Allen to tell them that they are the New Artists of the Year 2021.
Barrett was initially confused when she received what Urban called “powerful good news,” but expressed her joy with screams and giggles as she took it all in.
“Oh my gosh,” he said after watching the video. “Yay! I’m so happy. Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. I love everyone. I really don’t know what to say. This is amazing. Thank you so much.”
“It is a great honor,” he continued. “Since I came into the country music community, everyone has been absolutely wonderful to me. So thank you so much. It’s more than I deserve … it made it the whole year for me.”
Last year, Barrett was nominated for the same award. At the time, he told ET that a win “would mean a ton.”
“As an artist … when I was younger, I really wanted to be able to go on stage and give my speech, and for people to enjoy my music and all that stuff,” he said at the time. “… I think it definitely opens more doors for you, one hundred percent. It turns heads at people who weren’t really turned around before.”
Like Barrett, Allen didn’t know what was going on at first, as Urban told him via video: “I hope you feel good. You’re about to feel a lot better.”
Allen reacted to the exciting news by throwing the card and jumping out of his seat. “Stop playing!” he exclaimed, before deciding to watch the video a second time just to make sure he had heard it correctly.
“Wow,” Allen said, before joking, “Do I give my acceptance speech now?”
The victories give both Barrett and Allen their first ACM award. Allen is the first black artist to win a new artist award from the Academy of Country Music. Barrett is also nominated for Single of the Year for her song “I Hope.” Both are scheduled to perform during Sunday’s show.
“We are delighted to present Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett with their first ACM Awards,” said Damon Whiteside, executive director of the Academy of Country Music, in a statement. “Jimmie and Gabby have already experienced tremendous success on both Country Radio and broadcast, and we are proud to recognize them for such an extraordinary start to their careers.”
“A huge congratulations to each of them for this well deserved victory, and to all of our nominees for being recognized for their incredible contributions to country music,” he continued. “We look forward to welcoming Jimmie and Gabby to the ACM Awards stage on April 18.”
Tune in to Entertainment Tonight on Friday, April 16 to see Barrett and Allen co-host the show. The 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards will air from Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.