Keith, Womack Lead ACM Nominations With Six

Singer/songwriter Toby Keith got a
resounding answer to the musical
question “How Do You Like Me Now?!”
when Dwight Yoakam, newcomer Jamie
O’Neal and actor Billy Bob Thornton
announced nominees for the 36th
Annual Academy of Country Music
this morning (Feb. 27) in Los Angeles.

Keith received six nominations including
Top Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for How Do You Like Me Now?!, single and
song of the year for “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” and Video of the Year for
“You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This.” He also is up for the prestigious Entertainer
of the Year trophy, his first appearance in that category.

Red-hot Lee Ann Womack ties Keith with six nominations. She’ll compete for
Female Vocalist of the Year, and her critically acclaimed release, I Hope You
, received a nod in the album category. The title cut will vie for single,
song, vocal event and video of the year. Written by Tia Sillers and Mark D.
Sanders, “I Hope You Dance” was named country song of the year at last week’s
Grammy Awards and was named both single and song of the year at the Country
Music Association Awards in October.

The ACM’s reigning female vocalist, Faith Hill, will compete once again for the
honor along with Womack, Martina McBride, Sara Evans and Jo Dee Messina.
The much-awarded Hill received a total of four nods, including Video of the Year
for “The Way You Love Me,” Vocal Event for her collaboration with husband Tim
McGraw on “Let’s Make Love,” and Entertainer of the Year, where she’ll compete
with Keith, Brooks & Dunn, Dixie Chicks and George Strait.

Conspicuously absent from the entertainer
category this year is McGraw, who co-headlined
the mammoth Soul 2 Soul Tour with wife Hill last
year. In addition to the vocal event nomination with
Hill, McGraw is up for Male Vocalist of the Year, a
category which also includes Keith, Kenny
Chesney, Brad Paisley and Strait.

The Vocal Group award returns as a separate
category this year after being consolidated with the
Vocal Duo category in 1997. Five-time group
winner Alabama will compete with Dixie Chicks,
Sawyer Brown, Lonestar and Diamond Rio. For
Top New Vocal Duo/Group, nominees include
Sons of the Desert, Rascal Flatts and The Clark
Family Experience.

After wowing the audience during a performance with Asleep at the Wheel at last
year’s ACM Awards, newcomer Billy Gilman received his first ACM nominations
this year. The teen singer will compete for Top New Male Vocalist along with
Keith Urban and Phil Vassar. Gilman’s debut album, One Voice, is nominated in
the album category. The title cut, written by David Malloy and Don Cook, is up for
Song of the Year. Another newcomer, Jamie O’Neal, will compete for Top New
Female Vocalist along with Tammy Cochran and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.
O’Neal’s “There Is No Arizona,” which recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard country
singles chart, also will compete for Single of the Year.

Paisley, last year’s Top New Male Vocalist, will compete for three trophies,
including Top Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for Who Needs Pictures, and
Song of the Year for “We Danced.”

Country stalwart Johnny Cash, just released from a Nashville hospital after a bout
with pneumonia, received his first ACM nomination since 1985 when he was
nominated as a member of country supergroup the Highwaymen. American III:
Solitary Man
, is up for Album of the Year. Cash won the ACM’s Pioneer Award in
1991. The Judds, the ACM’s Vocal Duo of the Year from 1984-1990, also are
back as nominees in that category for the first time since 1991.

Also notable are two nominations for John Michael Montgomery’s single, “The
Little Girl.” Written by Nashville-based songwriter Harley Allen, the tune will
compete in the song and single categories.

The ACM Awards will be carried live May 9 on CBS. will provide full
coverage leading up to the big night.