Since it’s inception in 1966, the Academy of Country Music awards ceremony has been held in high esteem and provided an opportunity for reflection by country artists, fans and industry insiders.
Like many other culturally relevant awards shows, the ACM Awards are a unique opportunity to both provide milestone achievements for established artists and help to launch the careers of artists that are finding their footing in the industry. It is both prestigious and communal. If you want to be somebody in the industry, you want to be in attendance at worst and participating at best.
Each year the show is carefully curated to include hosts, presenters, performers, and of course nominees that reflect where country music is, has been, and wants to go.
From 2010 to 2020, there were only 41 instances in which Black people were represented. That’s counting performances, nominations, and presenters. Eleven of these appearances were entertainers from other genres like Nelly, Eve, and Cece Winans. The remaining 30 were repetitions of FOUR Black country music artists.
Last Sunday, at the 56th ACM Awards ceremony, things looked a little different. Thanks to the ACM Diversity task force there was more representation than ever before including the historic inclusion of a black woman, Mickey Guyton, hosting the event.
One thing in particular that stood out to me, was the inclusion of the up and coming duo War & Treaty. This was especially significant because it’s the first time that the ACMs have used the award stage to introduce their audience to an up and coming Black musical act. Historically, the few Black artists that have been represented have been artists that have had to put an exorbitant amount of effort into being recognized within the country music industry.
The War & Treaty have been putting in the work and have certainly been making music that qualifies as country, but they have been operating in the folk and Americana world. For the first time, the ACM’s have opened the door and invited a Black act in. The overwhelmingly positive response to their inclusion of The War & Treaty will hopefully be the encouragement needed to keep those invitations coming.
The War & Treaty are currently on tour until the end of September. You can find tickets to see them live, information on their latest releases, merch, and more on their website .
If you, like many of us, simply can’t get enough, here’s one of our all time favorite live performances from The War & Treaty.