As the final nominees were announced for the 2013 CMT Music Awards, singer-songwriter Jana Kramer was relaxing by the pool. Checking her Twitter feed, she discovered she had been nominated in two categories -- one for female and the other for breakthrough video of the year.
"I was like, 'What the heck?!'" she said of the unexpected news. "It was awesome! I honestly had no idea I was going to get nominated. I just didn't think I would at all. Crazy."
What's more, she's nominated for her debut music video, "Why Ya Wanna," a song that's sold more than 500,000 units and landed a Top 5 position on Billboard's country songs chart.
And though she's had plenty of experience in front of the camera due to her previous acting career, most notably starring in the popular television series One Tree Hill, it was her Kristin Barlowe-directed project that first introduced the actress as a country singer.
"I soaked up every second of it," she said of the video-making process.
Since that time, she's also put out a video for her follow-up tune, "Whiskey," and is currently working on another for her current single, "I Hope It Rains." But Kramer credits her initial video with playing a crucial role in fans getting to know her as an artist.
"I think for an introductory video, it's just to see your interaction or to show your personality through it and to deliver the song," she said. "Because if you aren't good at delivering the song, that's probably going to play out onto the stage, too -- just the whole performance of it just to make sure you capture that."
Hoping to also capture the attention of fans at this year's CMA Music Festival, Kramer looks forward to sharing her new music and meeting many of the festivalgoers.
"Gradually, people are connecting with my music, and that means the world to me," she said. "You get to meet people and talk to them and have them share their stories. They come from all over the world, and I think that's absolutely fantastic that we get to connect with them and say thank you, too."
Set to host the 2013 CMT Music Awards Video of the Year Special on Saturday (June 1) at 2 p.m. ET/PT on CMT, Kramer says a standout video should possess several qualities -- a high-caliber song with a fluent storyline, a spectacular performance and a visual element that ties the piece together. And despite her busy schedule -- planning a wedding to fellow country star Brantley Gilbert while also preparing to hit the road with Blake Shelton for his Ten Times Crazier tour in July -- the country newcomer took a few minutes to share with CMT.com her own thoughts on this year's video of the year nominees:
Jason Aldean, "1994": I love that because it brought in a lot of different artists to do to the video, and it just shows a party in the throwback days. I'm like, "Oh, my gosh! I totally remember wearing that or looking like that." It's cool to see the side pony. And Joe Diffie! That's so cool.
Luke Bryan, "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye": He's a goof, and he's so cute. He's just fun even when he's trying to be serious.
Kenny Chesney, "Come Over": It's a sexy video. It really is. It was definitely one of those where I was ... [watching with] hand over the mouth. But it was beautiful. The girl was stunning, and he looked very handsome.
Eric Church, "Springsteen": I mean, he's sexy. (laughs) And he just sits there, and he's perfect. He really is. I love the colors of the black and the white in that video.
Florida Georgia Line, "Cruise": They are fun dudes. They're very electrifying, so their video really shows a fun time. It's catchy.
Hunter Hayes, "Wanted": First of all, he's an absolute sweetheart. He's one of my labelmates, so I adore him. It just shows his personality with the piano and then all of the writing and the chalk. It's just him, and I think that's awesome.
Miranda Lambert, "Mama's Broken Heart": That video is fantastic! Just to show the tear-stained face and the crazy outfit. She's badass in my book, so she can do no wrong.
Little Big Town, "Tornado": It was a good video.
Tim McGraw, "One of Those Nights": He's hotter than ever.
Brad Paisley, "Southern Comfort Zone": I like how they show all the places. You kind of feel like you're home.
Taylor Swift, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together": Taylor is fantastic. She's adorable, and her videos have always been absolutely perfect.
Carrie Underwood, "Blown Away": She's stunning. She can do no wrong in my book. In every video, she looks drop-dead gorgeous, and she's a great little actress, too. She's really good.