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You don’t have to wait until the April 15 telecast to find out all the winners of the ACM Awards. The victors in the three new artist categories were revealed by the Academy of Country Music on March 26. They were also notified over the weekend by show host Reba McEntire, and as you’ll see in the videos below, those calls got pretty emotional.

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Brett Young has been named new male vocalist of the year, winning in a competitive category that also included Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Devin Dawson and Russell Dickerson.

Seven years after “American Idol” launched her career, Lauren Alaina is the victor in the new female vocalist category, a field where ACM voters could only manage to come up with four nominees. The other three were Danielle Bradbery, Carly Pearce and RaeLynn.

ACM voters also chose Midland as their new vocal duo or group of the year. The trio beat High Valley, LANCO, LOCASH and Runaway June for the honor.

While all the notification videos capture special moments, our favorite is Reba’s call to Lauren, who immediately bursts into tears as the country superstar tells her, “Honey, I’m so proud for you,” then later adds, “That’s the most priceless reaction.”

In a follow-up Twitter post, Lauren enlists a pun, calling the moment, “The best thing that has ever happened to me in my ‘McEntire’ life,” and adds, “Today my country-loving heart is exploding.”

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This year marked the first-ever ACM wins for Midland, Lauren and Brett. Midland is a three-time nominee, earning additional nods in the vocal group of the year category, as well as the single record category for hit “Drinkin’ Problem.” Lauren has a second nomination this year in the vocal event category for her hit collaboration with Kane, “What Ifs.”

Find out the winners in the rest of the hotly contested categories when “The 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards” air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas April 15 on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. (ET). All three of the newly-announced winners have earned a performance slot on the show.

Watch the reactions as Reba McEntire notifies the first three ACM Awards winners Twitter/@ACMawards
Phyllis Stark is a Nashville-based entertainment journalist who has been reporting extensively on country music (and loving every moment of it) for more than two decades.
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