The 2020 ACM Awards have officially crowned this year's New Artist winners, announcing on Thursday that Tenille Townes and Riley Green have been named New Female Artist of the Year and New Male Artist of the Year, respectively. Both Townes and Green were surprised with the news by Keith Urban, who is the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year and will serve as host during this year's ceremony, which will take place in September.
"I’ll always remember this feeling, standing here as a new artist," Townes said in a statement. "I feel so honored and incredibly grateful just to be a part of this Country Music community that inspires me. Receiving this ACM Award feels like belief from that community, and that means so much to me."
"When we had to come off the road back in March, I wasn't sure what the rest of 2020 would look like," Green added. "So much has happened in the world since then and I'm really excited to have a moment to play music again. My grandfathers’ love for Country Music is what led me to this moment and I have to dedicate this award to them. Thank you to everyone who believes in my music enough to let this boy from Alabama get to share his songs like this."
The two winners received the news during Zoom calls, which were crashed by Urban. "I’m still not even believing this....," Townes captioned her video, which she had believed was a traditional interview. Green was in the middle of what he believed to be a meeting with members of his team when Urban suddenly appeared on the screen. Townes and Green will both perform on the 2020 ACM Awards, which will air live from Nashville on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
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Townes was up against fellow female nominees Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Lindsay Ell and Caylee Hammack while Green won over male nominees Jordan Davis, Russell Dickerson, Cody Johnson and Morgan Wallen. All of this year's New Artist nominees recently teamed up with Willie Nelson for a cover of the country icon's "On the Road Again," which benefited the ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund.