ACM Awards snubs: Why isn't Dolly Parton an Entertainer of the Year?

The nominees for the 56th annual Academy of Country Music Awards arrived on Friday and brought us all a familiar mix of surprises and scratchy absences. We've rounded up some of the most notable, starting with a call to justice for one of country music's real treasures: Dolly Parton.
In addition to radio, sales, streaming and television appearances, the Academy of Country Music defines its entertainer of the year by "artistic merits" and "contributions to the country music industry". Has no one in country music entertained us more in 2020 than the East Tennessee legend?
Dominating the holiday season (with a top-charts album, a Netflix movie, and a prime-time network special, no less), Black Lives Matter said when many of her peers kept quiet and helped with funding research for a vital COVID-19 vaccine. Her relentless contributions to entertainment and humanity should earn her a spot among the top entertainers for most award seasons - and this year especially.
Snub: "Black like me"
With "Black Like Me" Mickey Guyton debuted one of the most important songs in country music last year. Released at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, Guyton recorded her journey into country music at a time when many gatekeepers were calling for more diverse voices in the format.
Mickey Guyton wrote "Black Like Me" a year before George Floyd's death, but hurried to get the song out because she said the time was right.
Despite initial rejection by radio programmers, the song Guyton earned her first Grammy nomination. She wasn't completely excluded from the show, however; On Friday morning, Guyton received her second nomination for New Artist of the Year.
Snub: Carrie Underwood
For the first time since 2005, Carrie Underwood will no longer run as Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards.
For the first time since 2005, Carrie Underwood will no longer run as Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards. History has chosen Miranda Lambert since they both started big label careers - Lambert won nine times before that, compared to Underwoods three - but it's nonetheless surprising that the show's co-defending entertainer of the year isn't featured in the main categories. This year's female artist category instead includes Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris, a strong field of emerging and established talent.
Surprise: The Cadillac Three
This is a hard-earned win for The Cadillac Three, a band that have been a constant on the road.
Ten years after their inception (though their members have played together for nearly 20 years), die-hard southern rock trio The Cadillac Three have received their first Group of the Year nomination. It doesn't come after a huge hit or a massive label push - this is a hard-earned win for a band that has been a constant on the street.
Snub: Sam Hunt
Sam Hunt is a no-show on this year's ballot.
He received four nominations for his 2014 debut "Montevallo", and last year's follow-up "Southside" went platinum and received critical acclaim. Yet Hunt is a no-show in this year's vote, just three years after the ACMs presented him with the prestigious Gene Weed Milestone Award. Whether it's a lot of competition in a male-dominated genre or the outcome of his 2019 DUI arrest, Hunt's absence here is glaring.
RELATED: These were the Most Popular Country Albums of 2020
Snubs: Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw
Kenny Chesney was one of the ACM snubs on Friday.
Both country giants released new albums in 2020 and had massive summer tours planned, but with the pandemic keeping them off the stages, they seem to be losing ground to younger guys like Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett.
RELATED: Tim McGraw, Tyler Hubbard Call for National Unity for New Song "Undivided"
MORE: Eddie Van Halen: Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley salute the guitar giant
Surprise: Hardy
Hardy won the New Male Artist of the Year award.
He's no stranger to the ACMs, having won the Single of the Year award for “God's Country” last year, which he wrote as a cowrote. But Hardy is also an up and coming recording artist, and for doing so, he's getting more recognition than ever this year, including a nod to the new male artist of the year.
RELATED: Ashley McBryde, Hardy, and Others Perform at CRS New Faces Virtual Storefront
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: ACM Awards Snubs: Why Not a Dolly Parton among the nominations?
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