5 Things to Expect from the 50th ACM Awards

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Luke Bryan | Photo Credits: Heather Wines/CBS

It’s the 50th anniversary of country music’s biggest night, and Luke Bryan says he and co-host Blake Shelton are ready to bring their A-game.

Sunday’s ACM Awards will honor the biggest names in country music and is set to feature an all-star slate of performances from rising stars to a long-awaited reunion. The Academy of Country Music is pulling out all the stops, even switching venues from the 12,000-seat MGM Grand to the legendary AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Check out the hottest looks from last year’s ACM Awards red carpet

“Knowing there will be over 60,000 people in there is pretty amazing,” Bryan tells TVGuide.com. “Walking out on stage for the first time and seeing all that is going to be pretty crazy.” So is he nervous? “Hosting a live TV show is pretty daunting, but I have a couple under my belt so I get more and more comfortable every year.”

Get more scoop on the big event below!

1. A toned-down show
Last year’s opening monologue took on everything from same-sex marriage to Britney Spears, but this time around Bryan says the show will be a bit more serious in honor of the 50th anniversary. “I don’t necessarily know if we’ll be doing tons and tons of jokes,” Bryan tells us. “It’s more about managing the show and making it flow [since] we’re paying a tribute to a lot of historic artists.”

2. But they’re still planning to have fun!
Don’t worry, the hosting duo is known for their fun-loving banter and plans to let that shine. “Everybody knows that Blake and I don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we are who we are and we don’t skirt around it or try to polish it,” he says. “We just get up there and let our personalities do what it does, and at the end of the day, people just enjoy real guys up there having fun.”

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3. A big reunion
Legendary group Brooks and Dunn will take the stage for their first televised performance together since 2010. Other anticipated performers, in addition to both Bryan and Shelton, include Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Reba, George Strait, Keith Urban and Florida Georgia Line.

4. Lots of surprises — and unexpected duets
Even Bryan says he’s being kept in the dark about some of the big surprises, including the identity of Christina Aguilera’s duet partner. (Perhaps her Voice co-star?) Among other interesting pairings is “Jealous” singer Nick Jonas with nominee Dan + Shay.

5. Luke is already a winner!
Earlier this month, the singer was named this year’s recipient of the ACM’s Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, which acknowledges unprecedented, unique and outstanding individual achievement in country music. (You can see the other pre-show winners here.) “It’s pretty amazing. I’m very flattered and humbled by that,” he says.

Check out all the nominees here.

The ACM Awards airs Sunday at 8/7c on CBS.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS)

On the set with Nashville’s Connie Britton:

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