Brad Paisley woke up early to announce the Academy of Country Music nominations on Tuesday morning (March 4) in Nashville, and he was relieved to hear his name in four categories — for entertainer of the year, male vocalist, album (5th Gear) and video (“Online”). It’s his first ACM entertainer nomination, and he insists that being up for a big award is not old hat.
“No, I don’t take it for granted, ever,” Paisley told CMT Insider, after the nominations were revealed at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “It’s a very important thing. It’s one thing if I had been one of these artists that awards have been elusive for, which happens sometimes, unfortunately. … But in a situation where you’ve been up for awards, you don’t want that to stop. You don’t want to become one of these guys that don’t get their name in the category. It will happen. There’s going to be a day when you’re going to say, ’Well, where’s Brad?’ But I’m glad it wasn’t today.”
As the reigning ACM male and female vocalists, Paisley and Carrie Underwood announced the nominations on the CBS news program, The Early Show. Paisley read this year’s female vocalist nominees on the air, and Underwood was delighted to find herself on the list.
“Right now, I’m not sure what other names he read because I was just looking for mine,” she later told CMT Insider. Asked if she sizes up her competition at awards shows, she replied, “I don’t think it’s necessarily like, ’Oh, I’ve got her licked.’ … I don’t think it’s like that at all. All you can do is go vote for yourself and hope other people do the same thing — and cross your fingers, I guess.”
Underwood says she’s grateful simply to attend the awards show, which will be held May 18 in Las Vegas.
“I consider myself a very lucky person, and I’m glad I get to do what I do and to be a part of the awards show — and to get to go,” she said. “I remember how I was when I listened to people on the radio when I was growing up, and I don’t consider myself in that category. I know I’m not a new kid, but it’s still pretty new to me.”
Rodney Atkins and Miranda Lambert also rose early for a performance at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville during the CBS telecast. Last year, the singers captured trophies for top new male and female artist. Both were rewarded with multiple nominations this year.
“It’s like you stepped into the big leagues,” says Atkins, who is nominated for top male vocalist, album (If You’re Going Through Hell) and song and video (both for “Watching You”). “It’s what you hoped would happen. I never prayed or wished to be famous. You just want to sing songs that are worthwhile and that touch folks’ lives. I’m just thankful for that. And to be mentioned in the categories with these guys is phenomenal. It really is.”
Atkins noted that the nomination for best album was “the coolest thing in the world to be nominated for,” especially because he wasn’t sure that he’d even get to make the album, since the one before it was commercially unsuccessful. He says he’s finishing the follow-up to If You’re Going Through Hell in the next few weeks.
“It’s amazing to have your name mentioned with these guys,” Atkins says. “Brad Paisley has been so kind to us over the last year. He’s the nicest guy I’ve met in this business. It’s unbelievable. I keep pinching myself. I can’t believe we had that many nominations. It’s like, you keep working — and here you are. It’s nice to be noticed.”
Meanwhile, Lambert is up for top female, album and single, and she was pleased to share the news with Atkins nearby.
“We’re both still newcomers, and it’s good to see people that you like, and that are good people, to grow together,” she said. “I think country music is so cool right now. I love country music, and I’m glad to be a part of it. People are noticing me, and I’m making my way to the forefront. It’s an amazing feeling.”
She also was surprised that “Famous in a Small Town” was included in the single record category.
“I thought, ’Wait, that has to be a mistake.’ It’s our biggest song we’ve ever had, when I play it with the band, but it wasn’t Top 10. It’s amazing to have a song that wasn’t even a Top 10 to be nominated for single of the year. I am so proud. The industry is noticing, even though on paper I haven’t had a No. 1. But when you go to my live show, and people sing along to two or three of my songs, that’s just as good as a No. 1. So I’ll take it!”
CMT Insider producers Terry Bumgarner and Laura Douglas contributed to this report.