Thomas Rhett is the ACM Awards Male Artist of the Year, marking his first time to win in the category. Although fans thought Rhett was a likely candidate to take home the trophy, the singer admitted that only three hours before the show began, he told his wife, Lauren Akins, that he didn't think he would walk away a winner.
"We never go into awards expecting anything," Rhett shared with PopCulture.com and other media backstage at the ACM Awards. "We're just glad to be there, glad to be nominated."
Rhett was among a respectable list of candidates, including Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney – all artists he admires and is a fan of, both on and off stage.
"All those people in that category are truly my best friends," Rhett revealed. "I listen to their music, and we hang out on Mondays and Tuesdays, because those are our weekends. Their music has shaped who I am, and I've taken a lot of things from them, and gone, 'Gosh, I love that. Can we do something for me in that vein?' It's really such an honor to win that award."
The ACM Awards win comes at a pivotal time for Rhett. When the Georgia native released his debut It Goes Like This album in 2013, he was a 22-year-old newlywed. Now, a 29-year-old with three albums to his credit already, and numerous No. 1 singles, the success seems a lot sweeter than it might have earlier in his career.
"When I turned a different age, I never felt I changed at all," admitted Rhett. "20 to 21 was a big change, because you can't drink and then you can. That was a big shift for me. 28 to 29, to me has been a gigantic shift, and I think the way that I describe success at 29 is much different than I defined it at 25. I think probably having kids, and having a wife that I love so much, has really put a lot of things into perspective.
"And so, I really just try to live every day in the present," he continued. "Being present this year is my New Year's resolution, and not trying to think what's going to happen in five years from now. Success for me is just always writing better songs and always playing better shows, and you know, always trying to be the best artist that I can be."
Rhett will wrap up the Canadian leg of his Life Changes Tour and will then kick off his Very Hot Summer Tour. Rhett's Center Point Road album will be released on May 31. Pre-order the record, and find tour dates at ThomasRhett.com.
Photo Credit: Getty / Denise Truscello