Eric Church and Little Big Town top the list of final nominees for “The 49th Annual CMA Awards” with five nominations each. The stellar lineup of finalists includes staunch traditionalists, format icons, roots rockers, and contemporary trailblazers.
“I am very excited by this year’s list of nominees,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “They represent the breadth and depth of the format – from first-time nominees to revered members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert received four nominations. Sam Hunt, Maddie & Tae, Kacey Musgraves, and Chris Stapleton each received three nominations for trophies that will be handed out on Country Music’s Biggest Night. CMA industry voters also gave their support to Country Music Hall of Fame members Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson.
For the first time in the history of the CMA Awards, four acts – Kelsea Ballerini, Hunt, Maddie & Tae, and Stapleton – debut in both New Artist and categories for Female Vocalist of the Year; Single and Song of the Year; Vocal Duo of the Year; and Male Vocalist of the Year (respectively).
“The 49th Annual CMA Awards” will be hosted for the eighth time by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, November 4th (8-11 PM/ET) on the ABC Television Network.
Jimmy Kimmel Live will once again celebrate the CMA Awards with an exciting Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the CMAs featuring some of Country Music’s biggest acts at 11:35 PM/ET on ABC.
For the tenth time, the announcement of the final nominees in five of the 12 CMA Awards categories was made live on ABC News’ Good Morning America with two-time nominee Ballerini and music icon Steven Tyler delivering the news from the heart of New York City’s Times Square. Following Good Morning America seven categories were announced by Ballerini and Tyler on GoodMorningAmerica.com on Yahoo and ABCnews.com – making the announcements a complete ABC takeover.
“This is our tenth anniversary on ABC and there was no better way to kick off our Awards season than to include our ABC partner properties in the announcement of our final nominees,” Trahern said.
Church’s nominations include Entertainer (his first nomination in the category); Male Vocalist; Single of the Year for “Talladega,” which was produced by Jay Joyce and Arturo Buenahora, Jr.; Song of the Year for “Like A Wrecking Ball,” which he wrote with Casey Beathard; and Musical Event of the Year for “Raise ‘Em Up” with Keith Urban. Church has a total of 17 nominations since his first in 2011 for New Artist of the Year.
Three-time CMA Vocal Group of the Year Little Big Town (2012-2014) has been nominated in the category every year since 2006 and received a nomination again in 2015. Adding to their list of 21 total nominations are industry nods this year for Single of the Year for “Girl Crush,” which was produced by Joyce; Album of the Year for Pain Killer, which was produced by Joyce; Musical Event of the Year with Lambert for “Smokin’ and Drinkin'”; and Music Video of the Year for “Girl Crush” which was directed by Karla Welch and Matthew Welch.
“Girl Crush” was also nominated for Song of the Year, which is awarded to the songwriters (Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, and Hillary Lindsey).
Chesney is nominated for Entertainer of the Year, a trophy he has collected four times (2004, 2006-2008). His other nominations in 2015 include Single of the Year for “American Kids” and Album of the Year for The Big Revival, both produced by Buddy Cannon and Chesney (Chesney only receives one nomination for the category, but can receive a second trophy as producer). His last nominations for Single and Album of the Year were in 2008 for “Don’t Blink” and Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. His fourth nomination is for Musical Event of the Year for “Wild Child” with Grace Potter. The pair was also nominated for Musical Event in 2011 for “You and Tequila.”
Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally all received nominations for Song of the Year for Chesney’s “American Kids.”
Lambert received her third Entertainer of the Year nomination in 2015 along with nominations for Female Vocalist (she is a five-time, consecutive winner in the category); Musical Event, featuring Little Big Town, for “Smokin’ and Drinkin'”; and Music Video of the Year for “Little Red Wagon,” which was directed by Trey Fanjoy. Lambert is the most awarded female in CMA Awards history with 11 wins and 38 nominations.
Earning early and ardent industry support, three of the four acts who received three nominations in 2015 are first-time nominees (Hunt, Maddie & Tae, and Stapleton).
Hunt collected nominations for Single of the Year for “Take Your Time,” which was produced by Zach Crowell and McAnally; Song of the Year for “Take Your Time,” which Hunt wrote with McAnally and Josh Osborne; and New Artist of the Year.
Duo Maddie & Tae (Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye) received their first nominations for Vocal Duo of the Year; Music Video of the Year for “Girl in a Country Song,” which was directed by TK McKamy; and New Artist of the Year.
Stapleton’s first CMA Awards nominations include Album of the Year for Traveller, which was produced by Dave Cobb and Stapleton (Stapleton only receives one nomination for the category, but can receive a second trophy as producer); Male Vocalist of the Year; and New Artist of the Year.
Musgraves, who won New Artist of the Year in 2013 and Song of the Year in 2014, has three nominations this year including Album of the Year for Pageant Material, which was produced by Laird, McAnally, and Musgraves (Musgraves only receives one nomination for the category, but can receive a second trophy as producer); Female Vocalist; and Music Video of the Year for “Biscuits,” which was directed by Marc Klasfeld.
Artists who received two nominations include Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, and Underwood.
Ballerini, who hosted the announcements and also notified CMA Broadcast Award finalists for Station and Personality of the Year via ABC News Radio, received her first nominations in 2015: Female Vocalist and New Artist of the Year.
Bryan, who is the reigning Entertainer of the Year is nominated again in 2015 (he received his first nomination in the category in 2013). He is also nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year.
Shelton is nominated for Musical Event of the Year with Ashley Monroe, for “Lonely Tonight” and Male Vocalist, a trophy he has won five consecutive times (2010-2014). This marks Shelton’s second Musical Event of the Year nomination with Monroe. Monroe was a member of Pistol Annies in 2013 when they were nominated with Shelton for Musical Event of the Year for “Boys ‘Round Here.”
CMA Awards co-host Underwood will be busy during the three-hour broadcast on ABC. She has two nominations including Female Vocalist, which she has won three times (2006-2008); and Music Video of the Year for “Something in the Water,” which was directed by Raj Kapoor.
Country Music Hall of Fame member George Strait retains his status as the most nominated artist in CMA Awards history with 83, but there were several other Hall of Fame members receiving nominations including Brooks, Haggard, and Nelson.
Brooks returns to the Entertainer of the Year category in 2015. He was last nominated in the category in 1999 and has won four times (1991, 1992, 1997, 1998) tying him with Chesney for the most wins in the category. He has a career total of 11 CMA trophies and 31 nominations.
Nelson and Haggard are nominated for Musical Event of the Year for their album Django and Jimmie, the iconic pair’s fifth collaboration in 32 years.
Nelson’s last CMA Awards nomination was in 2012 for Musical Event of the Year for “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” with Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, and Jamey Johnson. He has won nine CMA trophies and received 46 nominations. Haggard was last nominated for Musical Event of the Year in 2006 for “Politically Incorrect” with Gretchen Wilson. He has six CMA Awards and 46 nominations.
Lee Brice continues to rack up nominations with hit songs. In 2013, “I Drive Your Truck” won Song of the Year for the songwriters. In 2014, he was nominated as a songwriter for his hit “I Don’t Dance” with songwriters Rob Hatch and Dallas Davidson. And this year, “I Don’t Dance” is nominated for Single of the Year. Brice also produced the song, which makes him eligible to receive a second trophy as producer.
Jason Aldean is nominated for Album of the Year for Old Boots, New Dirt, produced by Michael Knox. In 2011, Aldean won Album of the Year for My Kinda Party.
Randy Houser received his first nomination as a songwriter in 2015, for “Like a Cowboy,” which he wrote with Brice Long. He has received two previous nominations for Music Video of the Year and New Artist (2009).
Making her return to the Female Vocalist of the Year category in 2015 is Lee Ann Womack. She won the title in 2001.
Rounding out the field for Male Vocalist of the Year is Dierks Bentley, a 15-time nominee and two-time winner including the Horizon Award in 2005 (now New Artist of the Year) and Music Video of the Year in 2014 for “Drunk on a Plane.”
Urban’s “Raise ‘Em Up” featuring Church is nominated for Musical Event, a category Urban has won three times: “Start A Band” with Paisley (2009), “Highway Don’t Care” with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift (2013), and “We Were Us” with Lambert (2014).
Joining Little Big Town in the CMA Vocal Group of the Year category are Lady Antebellum, who have also won Vocal Group three times (2009-2011); Rascal Flatts, who have won six times (2003-2008); The Band Perry, who have been nominated six times (2010-2015); and Zac Brown Band, who have been nominated every year since 2009.
Joining Maddie & Tae as first-time nominees in the Vocal Duo of the Year Category are Brothers Osborne. Dan + Shay are returning to the category after receiving their first nomination in 2014. Rounding out the category are two-time winners Florida Georgia Line (2013 and 2014) and Thompson Square, who won the trophy in 2012.
With four acts debuting in the New Artist of the Year category (Ballerini, Hunt, Maddie & Tae, Stapleton), Thomas Rhett is the only returning member of the group. Artists can only be included in this category twice.
The Musician of the Year category includes Sam Bush (mandolin), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Dann Huff (guitar), and current title holder Mac McAnally (guitar).
Winners of “The 49th Annual CMA Awards” will be determined in a final round of voting by eligible voting members of the Country Music Association. CMA Awards balloting is tabulated by the international accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche LLP. The third and final ballot will be emailed to CMA members Thursday, October 8th. Voting for the CMA Awards final ballot ends Tuesday, October 27th (6 PM/CT).
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan
- Kenny Chesney
- Eric Church
- Miranda Lambert
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to Artist and Producer(s))
- “American Kids,” Kenny Chesney. Produced by Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney. Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville
- “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town. Produced by Jay Joyce. Capitol Records Nashville
- “I Don’t Dance,” Lee Brice. Produced by Lee Brice. Curb Records
- “Take Your Time,” Sam Hunt. Produced Zach Crowell and Shane McAnally. MCA Nashville
- “Talladega,” Eric Church. Produced by Jay Joyce and Arturo Buenahora, Jr. EMI Records Nashville
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to Artist and Producer(s))
- “Old Boots, New Dirt,” Jason Aldean. Produced by Michael Knox. Broken Bow
- “Pageant Material,” Kacey Musgraves. Produced by Kacey Musgraves, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally. Mercury Nashville
- “Pain Killer,” Little Big Town. Produced by Jay Joyce. Capitol Records Nashville
- “The Big Revival,” Kenny Chesney. Produced by Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney. Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville
- “Traveller,” Chris Stapleton. Produced by Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton. Mercury Nashville
SONG OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to Songwriter(s))
- “American Kids,”Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally.
- “Girl Crush,” Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, and Hillary Lindsey.
- “Like a Cowboy,” Randy Houser and Brice Long.
- “Like a Wrecking Ball,” Eric Church and Casey Beathard.
- “Take Your Time,” Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne.
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
- Kelsea Ballerini
- Miranda Lambert
- Kacey Musgraves
- Carrie Underwood
- Lee Ann Womack
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
- Dierks Bentley
- Luke Bryan
- Eric Church
- Blake Shelton
- Chris Stapleton
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
- Lady Antebellum
- Little Big Town
- Rascal Flatts
- The Band Perry
- Zac Brown Band
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
- Brothers Osborne
- Dan + Shay
- Florida Georgia Line
- Maddie & Tae
- Thompson Square
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to each artist)
- “Django and Jimmie,” Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Legacy Recordings.
- “Lonely Tonight,” Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe. Warner Bros./Warner Music Nashville
- “Raise ‘Em Up,” Keith Urban featuring Eric Church. Hit Red Records/Capitol Records Nashville
- “Smokin’ and Drinkin,’” Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town. RCA Nashville
- “Wild Child,” Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter, Blue Chair Records/Columbia Nashville.
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
- Sam Bush (Mandolin)
- Jerry Douglas (Dobro)
- Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
- Dann Huff (Guitar)
- Mac McAnally (Guitar)
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- “Biscuits,” Kacey Musgraves. Directed by Marc Klasfeld
- “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town. Directed by Karla Welch and Matthew Welch
- “Girl in a Country Song,” Maddie & Tae. Directed by TK McKamy.
- “Little Red Wagon,” Miranda Lambert. Directed by Trey Fanjoy.
- “Something in the Water,” Carrie Underwood. Directed by Raj Kapoor
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
- Kelsea Ballerini
- Sam Hunt
- Maddie & Tae
- Thomas Rhett
- Chris Stapleton
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.