The nominees for this year’s CMA Awards are finally here.
This year’s nominees for the night’s most prestigious award — entertainer of the year — included Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Chesney, Church and Lambert. Brooks was last nominated as entertainer in 1999 and is tied with Chesney for most career wins in the category with four each.
And while there were many familiar faces among this year’s nominees, several newcomers also broke into major categories — with Chris Stapleton getting three nominations for male vocalist, new artist and album for the year (for Traveller).
Ballerini earned her first-ever CMA nominations for female vocalist and new artist.
“That’s not real, that’s not real!” she said after hearing her name called. “I’m shaking! I sat at the CMA Awards as a fan last year. What is this?!”
Five-time male vocalist of the year Blake Shelton could continue his winning streak as he goes up against Dierks Bentley, Bryan, Church and Stapleton.
The same goes for Lambert, the most -decorated female in CMA history, who is in the running for her sixth consecutive female vocalist trophy against Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, Lee Ann Womack and Ballerini.
Both fan and critical favorites broke into the album of the year category with Jason Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt, Musgraves’ Pageant Material, Little Big Town’s Pain Killer, Chesney’s The Big Revival and Stapleton’s Traveller all earning CMA recognition.
Several of the year’s biggest songs were also honored including Hunt’s “Take Your Time”, Chesney’s “American Kids” and Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” All three three walked away with nominations in both the single and song of the year categories.
The 49th annual CMA Awards will be hosted for an eighth consecutive year by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. The ceremony at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena airs live Nov. 4 on ABC.
For more on this year’s nominees. tune into CMT Hot 20 Countdown this Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 12-13) at 9 a.m. ET/PT.