Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson Score Surprise Grammy Nominations

Country icons land in two unexpected categories

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Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson Score Surprise Grammy Nominations
Sturgill Simpson, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson are among the country artists nominated at this year's Grammy Awards.

When the nominees were announced for the 59th Grammy Awards earlier this week, a number of country artists found their names in some unexpected categories.

Chief among them is Willie Nelson, who was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his tribute to the Gershwin brothers, Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. The album explores the Red Headed Stranger's affinity for the Great American Songbook.

Elsewhere, Kris Kristofferson gained a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album for his LP The Cedar Creek Sessions. The double-disc project features stripped-down versions of some of the songwriter's most well-known compositions, from "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" to "For the Good Times." Should Kristofferson win, it'll be his first Grammy since 1975.

In the gospel field, Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott is up for two awards, in the Best Contemporary Christian Music categories of Performance and Album, the latter for Love Remains, her project with mom Linda Davis and family.

The biggest surprises, however, occur in the all-genre categories, with Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth competing for Album of the Year, and four-time nominee Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini nominated for Best New Artist.

The Grammy Awards will air live on CBS on February 12th.