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Academy of Country Music Awards ready to party with Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks as hosts


FRISCO, Texas (AP) — It’ll be a new experience for Garth Brooks when he steps onto the stage Thursday at the Academy of Country Music Awards — it’s his first time hosting an awards show.

Co-host Dolly Parton will be there to help him out if he needs it — not that either showed any worry in a recent interview. “We’ve got a script that will go by just for guidance and time for the show, but I doubt very seriously that we’ll stick to it too close,” Parton said.

“It’s fun for me as a fan because I’ve always loved this woman from distance, but we’ve never got to work like this before. So trust me, … whether the show goes on the air or not, I’m having the best time on the planet,” Brooks said.

Singer-songwriter HARDY enters Thursday’s show as the leading nominee, up for seven trophies including two in the song of the year category. One of the songs he’s up for is “Wait in the Truck,” his duet with Lainey Wilson, who is second leading nominee.

He’s also a nominee as a songwriter for Morgan Wallen’s “Sand in my Boots.” The country superstar won’t perform as planned due to a vocal cord injury that’s halted his tour.

The night could end with reigning entertainer of the year Miranda Lambert extending her lead as the most decorated artist in ACMs history. She’s up for entertainer of the year along with Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Luke Combs and Wallen.

Two nominees are already winners: Hailey Whitters and Zach Bryan have won best new artist honors.

Performers will include some of country’s biggest names, including Carly Pearce, Keith Urban, Brandy Clark, and Mickey Guyton along with a special performance from British pop star Ed Sheeran. The show streams on Amazon Prime beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern from the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas.

Parton will perform “World on Fire,” a song from her new rock album.

Performances are a hallmark of the ACMs, which often pair artists who might not normally perform together. “They’re so frickin’ cool and I love them,” Brooks said.

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Lefferts reported from New York.