Thomas Rhett Says Dierks Bentley Taught Him to Be Zen About Awards Shows: ‘I Love His Attitude’
The 2022 ACM Awards are fast approaching, and Thomas Rhett is a two-time nominee this year, with mentions in the Album of the Year category (for Country Again: Side A) and Male Artist of the Year category.
In the latter category, he's the reigning champ: Rhett won Male Artist of the Year in 2021, beating out Eric Church, Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton and Dierks Bentley. He'll face off against Stapleton and Combs again in 2022, and also in the mix are Jimmie Allen and Morgan Wallen. Ahead of the show, Rhett tells Taste of Country that he's excited about being nominated, but he's not too anxious about whether or not he'll hang on to his Male Artist of the Year title.
"Like, I don't want this to come across wrong because I'm a good singer, but I'm not near the singer that Chris Stapleton is," Rhett says with a laugh, affirming that he wouldn't be at all disappointed to hand over his crown to someone like Stapleton, who is widely recognized as one of the genre's best singers.
"Maybe Chris just needs his own awards category!" Rhett goes on to say.
It's easy for Rhett to joke about awards shows: He's learned to stay light-hearted about those kinds of accolades, thanks in part to some advice from his fellow nominee, Bentley, who — as a nine-time CMA Male Vocalist of the Year who has yet to win the trophy — has plenty of experience losing to Stapleton.
"I love Dierks' attitude towards all this," the singer continues. "Every time I'm in Telluride, me and Dierks get to ski together, and we talk about all these awards shows, these nominations. Dierks is to the point where he's like, 'Yeah, I'll probably get nominated. I definitely will not win — but I love being there.'
"I love his attitude toward his career and toward his life," Rhett goes on to say. "He takes it seriously, but he doesn't take it to the point where it ruins his day if he loses. That's something that I've tried to adapt to. These awards shows are fun, and it's really cool to get recognized, but at the end of the day, we're still gonna play shows and we're still gonna make albums and there's still people out there that love what we make."
Still, "when it comes to the Male Artist, Male Vocalist category, I just can't stop seeing Chris Stapleton's face," Rhett
Remaining lighthearted while simultaneously remaining competitive is a tricky, important balance for any artist to learn to strike. But humor is a winning selling point, not just when it comes to awards shows: For example, Rhett — who's promoting the April release of his next album, Where We Started — recently posted a spoofy, The Office-inspired clip on social media featuring a character called Rodney. The premise of the video is that Rhett, desperate for album sales, calls in an unconventional publicist who guides him through a series of hilarious cold calls.
"Using humor as a way to sell the record, or a way to get people to at least put their ears on it, sounded kinda unique to me," Rhett explains, speaking about the thought process behind the Rodney skit.
Fans just might be able to see more of Rodney as Rhett continues the Where We Started rollout.
"We filmed, like, 10 of these videos that we're gonna start dropping every week or every couple weeks," he explains. "I think it's a part of me that fans have never really seen before, just being in that self-deprecating kind of image. It is acting, and it is kind of all made up, but it's just fun to sit and be like, 'What would get people to listen to it, the people that wouldn't normally listen to this record?' What would make them be like, 'That was kinda funny. I'm gonna check out these songs.' And then maybe they're like, 'Man, I love this record. Maybe I wanna go to a show.'
"I just think with so many people coming up with new ways to help promote an album, we were just like, 'This sounds fun, let's give it a shot,'" Rhett says.
The 2022 ACM Awards will air on March 7 from Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium at 8PM ET.