The 2020 ACM New Artist of the Year nominees have teamed up with Willie Nelson for a cover of the singer's "On the Road Again" just over one month ahead of this year's ceremony, which was moved from April to September due to the coronavirus pandemic. The New Male and New Female Artist nominees include Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Jordan Davis, Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Riley Green, Caylee Hammack, Cody Johnson, Tenille Townes, and Morgan Wallen.
The 10 nominees recorded the song with Nelson, an apt choice considering so many of them are waiting for the day they can get on the road again. The collaboration was produced by Ross Copperman and Jimmy Robbins and will be available to stream and on country radio on Thursday, Aug. 13. Proceeds from the song will benefit the ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund, which distributes funds to individuals in the country music community who are currently in need of pandemic relief assistance. Nelson's "On the Road Again" won a Grammy for Best Country Song in 1981 and topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart the previous year.
"The Academy is honored to work with Willie Nelson and all 10 ACM Awards New Artist Nominees to create a new contemporary version of the classic 'On the Road Again (ACM Lifting Lives Edition)' that is so poignant for our current times," Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music, said in a statement. "This is a powerful way to showcase so many of our newer and fast-rising artists alongside one of our genre's most legendary artists and iconic songs of all time. It feels very appropriate that this event will raise much-needed funds for our Country Music industry members in the financial crisis through our ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund. A huge thank you to the artists, Ross Copperman and Jimmy Robbins, as well as our friends at Warner Music Nashville for donating their time to this important project."
The 2020 ACM Awards will air live from three locations in Nashville, including The Bluebird Cafe, Ryman Auditorium, and the Grand Ole Opry House on Wednesday, Sept. 16, on CBS. The show will be hosted by Keith Urban, who is the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year. The winners for New Male and New Female Artist will be announced in the coming weeks, as the winners of those categories are typically announced ahead of the annual ceremony.