2021 CMA Awards: Full List of Nominees

Here is the complete list of nominees for the 55th Annual CMA Awards.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Eric Church
  • Luke Combs
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Carrie Underwood

Who’s In: Chris Stapleton

Who’s Out: Keith Urban

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Eric Church
  • Luke Combs
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton

Who’s in: Dierks Bentley

Who’s Out: Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Gabby Barrett
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Ashley McBryde
  • Maren Morris
  • Carly Pearce

Who’s In:  Gabby Barrett, Carly Pearce

Who’s Out: Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady A
  • Little Big Town
  • Midland
  • Old Dominion
  • Zac Brown Band

Who’s In: Zac Brown Band

Who’s Out: Rascal Flatts

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae

Who’s In: Nobody

Who’s Out: Nobody

New Artist of the Year

  • Jimmie Allen
  • Ingrid Andress
  • Gabby Barrett
  • Mickey Guyton
  • Hardy

Who’s In:  Mickey Guyton, Hardy

Who’s Out: Carly Pearce, John Tyler Morgan Wallen

Album of the Year

  • Brothers Osborne, Skeletons
  • Eric Church, Heart
  • Carly Pearce, 29
  • Chris Stapleton, Starting Over
  • John Tyler Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album

Single of the Year

  • “Famous Friends” – Chris Young & Kane Brown
  • “The Good Ones” – Gabby Barrett
  • “Hell of a View” – Eric Church
  • “One Night Standards” – Ashley McBryde
  • “Starting Over” – Chris Stapleton

Song of the Year

  • “Forever After All” – Luke Combs, Drew Parker, and Robert Williford
  • “The Good Ones” –  Gabby Barrett, Zach Kale, Emily Landis, and Jim McCormick
  • “Hell of a View” – Casey Beathard, Eric Church, and Monty Criswell
  • “One Night Standards” – Nicolette Hayford, Shane McAnally, and Ashley McBryde
  • “Starting Over” – Mike Henderson and Chris Stapleton

Music Video of the Year

  • “Chasing After You” – Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris; Director: TK McKamy
  • “Famous Friends” – Chris Young with Kane Brown; Director: Peter Zavadil
  • “Gone” – Dierks Bentley; Directors: Wes Edwards, Travis Nicholson, Ed Pryor, Running Bear and Sam Siske
  • “Half of My Hometown” – Kelsea Ballerini featuring Kenny Chesney; Director: Patrick Tracy
  • “Younger Me” – Brothers Osborne; Director: Reid Long

Musical Event of the Year

  • “Buy Dirt” – Jordan Davis and Luke Bryan
  • “Chasing After You” – Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris
  • “Drunk (and I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” – Elle King & Miranda Lambert
  • “Famous Friends” – Chris Young with Kane Brown
  • “Half of My Hometown” – Kelsea Ballerini featuring Kenny Chesney

Musician of the Year

  • Jenee Fleenor (Fiddle)
  • Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
  • Aaron Sterling (Drums)
  • Ilya Toshinsky (Banjo/Guitar)
  • Derek Wells (Guitar)

Who’s In: Aaron Sterling (Drums)

Who’s Out: Rob McNelley (Guitar)


  1. I get that Morgan Wallen is huge and connects very well with listeners but ew at him getting album.

    Love seeing Carly Pearce get more love.

    Also maybe it is just me but I don’t get the hype around Gabby Barrett.

  2. …is that overly extensive spelling out of all of morgan wallen’s names the cma’s reprimand of his use of the short n-word back in february? the famous new let’s-express- distance-by-putting-as-many-of-his-names-between-us-and-him-approach? if you can’t fight him – spell him extensively? i surely almost didn’t find out that john tyler morgan wallen was the morgan wallen. jolly well done, cma. kudos.

  3. Kevin – your total lack of objectivity is showing – that would be like always referring to Jane Fonda as Hanoi Jane Fonda (which I sometimes have done in the past and I readily confess to my total lack of respect for Jane Fonda).

    • Paul, you’re 100% right. I have a complete lack of objectivity about racism and racists. Thank you for the compliment. It feels good to be acknowledged in that way.

      Tom, if Wallen hadn’t decided to lean in and embrace this, I’d cut him some slack. But he took the ball and ran with it instead, gleefully collecting royalty checks from white supremacist-boosted record sales and letting the industry rehabilitate his image without him doing any of the work to earn it. Jesus talked a lot about forgiveness. But it was contingent upon actually being sorry.

      Imagine being an artist of color right now in country music, having to grin and bear it, or even being pressured to give him cover publicly. How safe and respected would you feel?

  4. By the way – I think music should be judged on its own merits and awarded according. I think Barbra Streisand is a loathsome toad, but she is a magnificent singer and I have purchased a number of her albums. I also disagreed politically with Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and PP&M but a number of their albums grace my vinyl shelves

    I haven’t heard Morgan Waller’s double album and local radio has played only a couple of tracks from it, which haven’t tempted me to buy it, but I am judging what I have heard strictly on my own musical tastes. If I loved what I had heard, I would buy the album

  5. …i apologise (almost) wholeheartedly to the cma for not having been able to resist the temptation to take the mickey out of them a little. i should have known better than shooting at sitting ducks. that was not fair. it was inpolite – and what i hate the most – the creation of an “alternative fact”. thanks, for making me a real donald today, kevin. i am all for letting morgan wallen feeling as uncomfortable as possible these days, however, your solution may not be the smartest one. what are we gonna do with the next d…ss, whose middle name may be jesus? on second thought, latinos hardly ever get real far in country music anyway and thanks to that beautiful wall down there. now, i have to go and check, whether my hair is all in place nicely and perhaps tweet a little about my game of golf and that bleedin’ copycat bolsonaro from bolivia, or so.

  6. Regarding AOTY (I’ll stay away from the main subject in the comments), I will say I was happy to Carly Pearce’s 29 get a nomination. That album is absolutely deserving of it, and given Carly isn’t a household name…it was good to see her get acknowledged for her work. I’d probably put it neck and neck with Stapleton as my favorites in the category, although I’d imagine Stapleton will probably win.

    As far as everything else goes, other than Carly and the other “surprise” that’s already being discussed…there is very little that stood out to me. The Single/Song nominees were fine, but fairly forgettable….and the nominations in the other categories were practically the same as last year. I don’t see anything turning the tide for the CMA’s (and really, most award shows) descent into irrelevance.

  7. The MW album shouldn’t have been nominated. Not just because he isn’t actively rehabilitating his image, but there no way it’s one of the five best albums within the nomination window.

    And this is your site so you can obviously do what you want.

    But I think giving him a different name in the list of nominations gives him far more attention, here, than he would have otherwise. He doesn’t deserve the attention he’s already getting.

    Obviously if he wins, that becomes a separate issue, but that would be an indictment of the industry just as much as the artist.

  8. I’m a little surprised that Luke got a nod for song and not single. “Forever After All” is good sonically but is just a list song, lyrically (as is most of his songs). But he had the biggest year, radio-wise, by far.

    Duo and group really need to be combined at this point.

  9. Full disclosure: I am a gay man, early 40’s, and who considers myself an independent politically. I have friends of all races, sexes, etc. Musically I like most genres of music but my favorite is classic country.

    Regarding Morgan Wallen – I am not a big fan but he has a few good songs. What I wish is for everyone to take a small breath. I am aware of the controversies and have heard the tape in full of him using the “N” word. It was TOTALLY inappropriate. That being said it was not said in malice toward anyone as a racial slur. It was stupid behavior and YES, it should be called out. I wish we could all practice a bit more forgiveness (yes, I understand there is a limit to how much we forgive) and also understand we ALL have done stupid things. Had there been “cancel culture” years ago there would be no legends like Johnny Cash, George Jones, Merle Haggard, and possibly even Loretta. All of those individuals got caught doing or saying inappropriate stuff. However, we understood they were human and humans are very flawed, and that is ALL humans.

    As I have grown older I have learned one thing I can be certain of. We are ALL wrong and wrong many times. I believe we should learn to forgive but also learn from our mistakes. Since we are all country music fans I would encourage everyone to listen to Dolly Parton’s song “Shattered Image” (both the 1976 version and the later bluegrass version).

    I truly enjoy this site. I hope it was ok to express my opinions.

    • Tom, I have no problem with you expressing your opinion.

      But I have no forgiveness to offer someone who isn’t sorry, and has leaned in to being embraced as some sort of victim of cancel culture, while not being on the receiving end of any meaningful consequence. If anything, being the new cancel culture victim/white supremacist poster boy has inflated his bank account. He hasn’t been “Canceled.” He’s been embraced, and not just in spite of his actions, but because of them.

      I’m also tired of racist language and racism in general being discussed as if it’s a difference of political opinion or a casual mistake, as if there’s any good reason for that word to be in his vocabulary in the first place. Doesn’t matter how drunk or how high I get, or how angry or irritated I get. That word is not coming out of my mouth because I don’t use it like that, not even in my thoughts.

      I’ll say it again: imagine being a Black country artist right now. Kane Brown is a top touring artist and doesn’t even get to the second ballot of Entertainer of the Year. Darius Rucker can outsing almost any other guy in the radio, and he doesn’t make the second ballot of Male Vocalist of the Year. But even with 20 albums to choose from, the guy who dropped the N word gets an Album of the Year nomination, after a summer of all these A list country stars who didn’t have shit to say when racial justice was in the news are now trotting this guy out at their concerts and recording duets with him.

      Kane Brown was bullied with that word growing up. It’s been yelled at him while on stage. He’s not nominated for Album of the Year. The guy who was “cancelled” is.

      It’s all a choice. It’s all intentional. Yet call him John Tyler Morgan Wallen, which requires Google for most folks to even understand, and the calls for grace and forgiveness come pouring in for a dude that isn’t even sorry for what he said, feigning ignorance about the meaning of the word and insisting he was using it “playfully.” Yes, that’s a direct quote.

      I hear that excuse for every homophobic and misogynist slur that people use, too. “I didn’t mean it that way.” As if there aren’t a thousand other words that could be used to express what you claim you really meant, but you still chose the one that denigrates and dehumanizes a marginalized community.

  10. It’s the most ridiculous thing for Wallen to act as though he didn’t mean anything offensive by yelling out that word. This was freakin’ 2021! There’s just no way around any of his flimsy excuses. It’s deeply shameful that he was rewarded for his behavior with increased record sales and, now, a CMA nomination for those racist inflated sales.

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