Cleto Cordero Reflects on Flatland Cavalry’s First ACM Nomination, Their Sold-Out Ryman Auditorium Debut, and More

Lubbock, Texas-based Flatland Cavalry formed in 2012 and released their debut album Humble Folks four years later. Since then, they have been growing a fanbase that latches on to the band’s relatable lyrics and danceable arrangements. Now, after 12 years, four full-length albums, and two EPs, the band has received their first ACM Award.

Videos by American Songwriter

Flatland Cavalry is nominated for Duo/Group of the Year. They’ll be up against Lady A, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band, and Old Dominion at tomorrow night’s (May 16) ACM Awards. Ahead of the big night, the band’s frontman Cleto Cordero sat down with American Songwriter to discuss the nomination, their sold-out headlining debut at the Ryman, and more.

[RELATED: 2024 ACM Awards: Full List of Presenters, Performers and Nominees]

Cleto Cordero on Flatland Cavalry’s First ACM Nomination

When asked about his initial reaction to the nomination, Cordero said, “I’d say one of shock. I did not expect that to cross my desk that morning.”

“I woke up to a text and literally thought it was a prank or an AI-generated image,” he recalled. “It’s super humbling and ultimately exciting. I mean, I’ve been listening to country since my parents played a radio on the windowsill growing up and it’s incredible to have a seat at the table with people we’ve listened to and been inspired by for a long time,” he added.

Who Is Cordero Hoping to Meet at the ACM Awards?

The ACM Awards will be packed with some of the biggest stars in country music. From Reba McEntire hosting the event to the laundry list of legendary names who are nominated for awards or slated to perform, it’s going to be a who’s who of country music. Cordero revealed who he hopes to speak to at the event.

“I’ve been taking things a day at a time. We’re touring pretty heavily and stuff and I come home and take it day by day,” he explained. “I haven’t thought that far ahead. But I genuinely mean it when I say that anyone I get to meet that night, I’ll feel pretty lucky to get to talk to them,” Cordero added.

“All the people we’re on the ballot with like Old Dominion and Zac Brown, Lady A, getting to meet any of them would be cool,” Cordero said of his fellow Duo/Group of the Year nominees. “Now that we’re talking about it, Stapleton would be pretty surreal to meet. But yeah, as with everything else that seems to happen in my life, I go about it organically and that seems to take the pressure off of it. So, whatever happens, I’ll be jolly,” he added.

Cleto Cordero Reflects on Flatland Cavalry’s Ryman Debut

Flatland Cavalry made their headlining debut at the Ryman Auditorium in February. Not only did they headline the Mother Church, but they also sold it out. During his conversation with American Songwriter, Cordero reflected on that night.

“That was a milestone show,” Cordero said. “Ever since it’s been on the books it was like ‘Oh my gosh. It’s going to be incredible. That’s gonna be wild.’ Then it happens and it’s up there with one the best shows you feel like you’ve ever played in your life,” he added.

[RELATED: Watch Flatland Cavalry Pay Tribute to Toby Keith During Their First Headlining Show at the Ryman]

Cordero went on to say that it was one of those shows “where everything just lines up and music flows through you and the words flow through you to say. It’s evenings like that that affirm you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing or created to be doing.” Then, he said, “We were blessed to fill up that room or even get to play there. Some people feel grateful just to take a tour there and stand on the stage. But we got to play but it was really beautiful.”

“Like the End of the Movie Iron Giant

Cordero then explained the feeling of headlining the Mother Church with an apt analogy. “Growing up listening to the radio, hearing those songs, and knowing that things were inspired out of that building and out of that place is like the end of the movie Iron Giant,” he explained. “The giant sacrifices himself and gets blown up and all his parts are spread out across the globe and start making a beacon sound. I feel like I was a kid that got pinged by the radio and I traveled back to the source to send out more. It’s a really beautiful thing.”

Watch the ACM Awards on Amazon Prime tomorrow night (May 16) to see if Flatland Cavalry walk away with their first ACM trophy.

Featured Image by Fernando Garcia

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