Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Reba McEntire had hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards solo for over a decade until just last year. In 2011, the ACMs decided to switch things up and add in Blake Shelton as co-host. On April 1 the duo is back together again, and there’s sure to be some trouble. Known for his sly sense of humor, Shelton will no doubt give a whole new meaning to April Fool’s Day.

Telecast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the show is set to include performances from Shelton, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Chris Young, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts.

Additionally, Zac Brown Band will host and perform at the second annual ACM Fan Jam, which will be streamed live during the show. ACM New Artist of the Year nominees Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes and Scotty McCreery will also play.

Watch ACM Awards artists play Live On Letterman.

Zac Brown Band (Photo Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Thunder)

If last year’s surprise collaborations between Sugarland and Rihanna, Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler, and Zac Brown Band and James Taylor are any indication, 2012’s show is sure to up the ante. With the debut of Chesney’s top-secret single (from his upcoming album due out June 19) scheduled for the evening’s broadcast, it will be a memorable night.

While each performance is sure to impress, the fan-voted categories perhaps draw the most attention. Will Taylor Swift win Entertainer of the Year again, beating out Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton? Her latest video, featuring her cat, Meredith, and urging fans to vote, is pretty convincing.

ACM New Artist of the Year nominees include Brantley Gilbert, who has already penned several chart-topping hits for Jason Aldean, country heartthrob Hunter Hayes and American Idol darling Scotty McCreery. Given McCreery’s success on fan-voted shows, he is most likely to come out on top of what is no doubt a tough category.

In addition to the electrifying performances and career-affirming awards, the ACMs added a new award to the mix this year: the ACM Songwriter of the Year. The Boot reports that it’s the first time a new category has been added since the ‘60s. The nominees include Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, Ben Hayslip, Luke Laird and David Lee Murphy. These are the men behind hits by Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, Eric Church and many others, making this category the most unpredictable.

While Kenny Chesney has the most nominations, 2012 might be Lady Antebellum’s year again. The trio has been on fire since 2008, from their self-titled debut through Need You Now to last year’s Own The Night. Tough contenders for Album of the Year, both are in the running alongside Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert and Eric Church. Riding the success of his first ACM win last year for Top New Solo Vocalist, Church seems like the underdog in this category, though there’s a good chance he could take it home for his latest release, Chief.

Visit the ACM Awards section at CBS Local.

Annie Reuter is an Associate Producer for Top 40 at CBS Local and founder of music website You Sing I Write. Follow her on Twitter @yousingiwrite.


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