Brett Eldredge, Thomas Rhett Won’t Dwell on ACM New Artist Nominations

Three Finalists Will Be Named From a Field of Eight Contenders

What exactly constitutes a new artist of the year? Is it all about the talent? The personality? The look? Or is it a package deal culminating in all of the above?

When you line up Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Tyler Farr, Sam Hunt, Kip Moore, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice and Cole Swindell, it’s easy to see all of those qualities — and then some.

The initial voting period for the preliminary round of the Academy of Country Music’s new artist of the year has ended, and three of those eight acts will be revealed in the coming weeks to compete in the final round of voting for the new artist category at The final round of fan voting begins April 8 and will close on April 19, the date the 50th annual ACM Awards show airs live on CBS.

All eight of the artists worthy and deserving in their own ways and grateful for the nomination and the incredible year of success they’ve all enjoyed.

Eldredge is looking forward to the show and all the pomp and circumstance that comes along with it, but he also told me he’s looking forward to just hanging out with his buddies during the whirlwind week in Texas.

“It’s going to be in Dallas!” Eldredge said. “That’s going to be a whole new game. It’s not Vegas. It’s a whole new playground now.”

Like Eldredge, fellow nominee Thomas Rhett is trying not to sweat the nomination, but rather soak up the moment with his fellow friends and nominees.

“I think whatever is supposed to happen will happen,” Rhett assured me. “Everybody has had a tremendous amount of success in the category, and everybody has put in the man-hours. Everybody is touring 200 days a year and doing everything right and working really hard.

“It’s going to be a fun awards show,” Rhett said. “All of those guys are my buddies, anyway, so whoever gets into that top three, it will be fun to watch.”

But even the best friendships aren’t immune to friendly and harmless rivalries. Are jovial jabs being thrown as the votes are tabulated?

“Me and Cole always do,” Rhett revealed with a chuckle. “He is my favorite human being to be around. We’ve always been close, but we went on that Florida Georgia Line cruise this year, and me and (wife) Lauren shared a two-bedroom thing with just Cole, and it was awesome.

“I know that sounds so weird and strange, but he was the most entertaining human to be around. He’s awesome.”

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.