The Academy of Country Music revealed its nominees for the 44th annual awards show slated for Sunday, April 5. Album of the Year nominations will be announced in March, likely to coincide with the presentation of the Best New Artist nominees.
Brad Paisley- Paisley is the leader of the pack with six nominations. His video clip, “Waitin’ on a Woman,” (with legendary television star, Andy Griffith) is Paisley’s bid at a fourth Video of the Year victory. “Waitin'” is also in the running for Single and Song of the Year, and Paisley is a considerable threat to dethrone four-time champion Chesney for Entertainer of the Year.
George Strait- In a separate ceremony, Strait will be recognized as the Academy of Country Music’s Artist of the Decade, but his support runs deep even in the present day. He will bid for Entertainer of the Year and Top Male Vocalist, as well as Video of the Year for “Troubadour,” his first clip since 2006’s “The Seashores of Old Mexico.”
Kenny Chesney- Chesney’s impact seems dulled this year, but he’s contesting in three categories, including a bid for his fifth consecutive Entertainer of the Year honor. Mac McAnally, the CMA Musician of the Year, snagged a nomination for his collaboration with Chesney, “Down the Road.”
Sugarland/Rascal Flatts-The Flatts will likely walk away with their seventh consecutive Vocal Group win, but the Entertainer of the Year award alludes them one more year. Sugarland was robbed by Brooks & Dunn for Vocal Duo last year, but they’re the heavy favorites to secure victory.
Heidi Newfield- In 2003, Newfield lead Trick Pony to five nominations, including Album (On a Mission) and Single (“Just What I Do”), but her emergence as an awards show threat for her first solo turn still turned heads. “Johnny & June” bested potential nominees “Just a Dream,” “Love Story” and “Just Got Started Loving You” in the Single and Song categories.
Carrie Underwood- The format’s premier female star (and a six-time ACM winner) earned a deserved first nod in the Entertainer category, and she’ll vie for her third consecutive Top Female Vocalist trophy. While her war widow ballad, “Just a Dream,” received a Video of the Year nomination, it’s absent from the Single and Song categories, a surprise snub considered Underwood’s high-profile performance of the song at last November’s CMA Awards.
Miranda Lambert/Taylor Swift- The last two Top New Female Vocalist winners have half a chance of denying Underwood her third crown, but they both have a second shot at victory come April 5. Lambert’s volatile “Gunpowder and Lead” is eligible for Single of the Year, and Swift’s epic clip for “Love Story” is mentioned in the Video of the Year category.
Alan Jackson- Normally a staple at the ACM Awards, he’s absent from the roster this time. He is eligible for the Album of the Year category for last year’s gold-selling disc, Good Time. The omission of “Small Town Southern Man” from the Single, Song and Video categories is a disappointing slight for one of the finest moments of Jackson’s career.
Toby Keith- Keith’s public animosity towards the Country Music Association is notable, but he has warmer, fuzzier feelings for the Academy of Country Music. He’s a seven-time winner (Entertainer of the Year in 2001 and 2004), and his Top Male Vocalist nomination is his ninth in ten years.
Trace Adkins/Jamey Johnson- Adkins (1996 Top New Male Vocalist) and Johnson (2006 Song of the Year, “Give It Away”) will aim for more hardware this year. “You’re Gonna Miss This,” the biggest hit of Adkins’ career, is nominated for both Single and Song of the Year. Johnson’s stirring “In Color” is a formidable contender in those categories, and he’s also featured in the fan-voted Best New Artist race. James Otto, who co-wrote “In Color,” is also nominated. Sarah Buxton and Jake Owen repeat their nominations from last year, but the popularity of Dancing with the Stars dancer, Julianne Hough, makes the Best New Artist award hers to lose.
Trisha Yearwood/Lee Ann Womack- Women over 40 are still making music in Nashville, and two of the finest representatives received a single nod. “Another Try,” Yearwood’s collaboration with Josh Turner, is nominated for Vocal Event of the Year (she’s only won two ACM awards in her nearly twenty-year career); Womack is tabbed in the Top Female Vocalist category for the sixth time. Martina McBride is missing from that lineup for the first time since 1996.