ACM Awards 2020: Lindsay Ell Calls Double Nomination 'Validating' (Exclusive)

When Lindsay Ell heard her name called not once but twice in the list of nominees for the 2020 ACM Awards, she was pleasantly surprised. The Canadian is nominated for both Vocal Event of the Year, for her "What Happens in a Small Town" collaboration with Brantley Gilbert, as well as New Female Artist of the Year.

"We work so hard and we always want these things to happen, and award shows aren't everything, but when people say they don't matter, they do matter," Ell told PopCulture.com. "It's sometimes a short glimpse because we do have a lot of award shows in country music, but to wake up and to hear about those two nominations was so validating.

"Validating as an artist to be like, 'OK, I'm headed in the right direction,'" she continued. "All of the countless blood, sweat and tears, all of the hours that we've been traveling around the world, all the sacrifices we make to our families and our friends that we never really get to see, it seems to pay off a little bit in moments like that."

Ell and Gilbert also earned a CMA Award nomination for "What Happens in a Small Town," which became a No. 1 hit. In spite of the success of the song, Ell didn't expect to be nominated at all, let alone for both Vocal Event and New Female Artist, especially since she was also nominated in the latter category in 2019 as well.

"I'm always a little bit surprised with award shows, because there's so much that goes into award shows," Ell reflected. "There's so much behind just the music that we get to see and experience of what meets the eye, and what goes into making some of those decisions. I am unfairly biased, because a lot of my friends are up for those nominations, and so who sometimes I'm just like, 'OK, interesting, interesting.'

"But the cool part is I'm so proud to be nominated with a lot of my friends," Ell continued, praising her fellow nominees Tenille Townes, Gabby Barrett, Ingrid Andress and Caylee Hammack. "Especially in the New Female category, all those women are so bada–– and I'm honored to stand up there beside them."

Ell is also equally stunned to be mentioned in the all-star Vocal Event category, which she shares with Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton ("Dive Bar"), Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X ("Old Town Road"), Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber ("10,000 Hours") and Miranda Lambert and her Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour openers ("Fooled Around and Fell in Love").

"In the Vocal Event category, I'm nominated in award next to Garth Brooks and Lil Nas X," said Ell. "To see all of those in a country music category, to have Justin Bieber and Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, all of these pop acts being blended into a country world, it's kind of cool. I think it's a really great spot for a genre to be able to bring in fans, who maybe never have listened to country music, and for them to be like, 'Oh, country's kind of cool. That's not what I thought country was. I think it's really, really healthy for us as a format, and I was really happy to see that."

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The 2020 ACM Awards will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 5, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Photo Credit: Getty / Jeff Kravitz