Eric Church, Chris Stapleton Lead ACM Awards Nominations

Little Big Town, Cam, Chris Young and Kelsea Ballerini also make strong showings

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Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton is tied with Eric Church for the most ACM nominations. Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Eric Church and Chris Stapleton are the top nominees for the upcoming 51st annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Both performers scored five nominations when the categories were announced this morning. 

Church, who released his surprise album Mr. Misunderstood in November, earned his first Entertainer of the Year nomination from the ACM. He'll compete with reigning Entertainer (and show co-host) Luke Bryan, stadium king Jason Aldean, out-of-retirement superstar Garth Brooks and fifth-time entertainer nominee Miranda Lambert. Unlike the last few years, the Entertainer category will not be fan-voted, which may change the outcome.

Stapleton still seems to be gaining momentum after his winning night at the CMA Awards in November, earning his first nominations for Male Vocalist of the Year, New Male Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year for "Hangover Tonight" with Gary Allan. Stapleton also got a double nomination in the Album of the Year category, one as artist and one as producer. He'll compete for that prize with Church's Mr. Misunderstood, Chris Young's I'm Comin' Over, Sam Hunt's Montevallo and Thomas Rhett's Tangled Up.

As a possible indication that new talents are breaking through, "Burning House" singer Cam got her first nominations and ended up with a total of four. "Burning House" is nominated for Video of the Year and Single Record of the Year  (getting her nominations as artist and producer), plus she's included in the New Female Vocalist of the Year category.

Chris Young also garnered four nominations, including double nods for Album of the Year for I'm Comin' Over and its hit title song.

Also getting four nominations were Little Big Town, still rolling on the strength of "Girl Crush," which lands in the Single and Video of the Year categories. Additionally, Little Big Town are up for the Vocal Group of the Year honor as well as the Vocal Event of the Year for Miranda Lambert's "Smokin' and Drinkin'." LBT member Karen Fairchild will compete against her primary group in that category for her participation on Luke Bryan's "Home Alone Tonight."

Other strong nominees included "Buy Me a Boat" singer Chris Janson, Thomas Rhett and Lambert, who each scored three nominations. The 51st annual ACM Awards, co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley, will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS.

Here is the complete nominees list for the 51st annual ACM Awards: 

Entertainer of the Year
Jason Aldean
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert

Male Vocalist of the Year
Jason Aldean
Dierks Bentley
Eric Church
Brett Eldredge
Chris Stapleton

Female Vocalist of the Year
Kelsea Ballerini
Jana Kramer
Miranda Lambert
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood 

Vocal Duo of the Year
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Joey + Rory
Maddie & Tae 

Vocal Group of the Year
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

New Male Vocalist of the Year
Brett Eldredge
Chris Janson
Thomas Rhett
Chase Rice
Chris Stapleton

New Female Vocalist of the Year
Kelsea Ballerini
Cam
Mickey Guyton
RaeLynn

New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year
A Thousand Horses
Brothers Osborne
Maddie & Tae
Old Dominion
Parmalee

Album of the Year
I’m Comin’ Over – Chris Young
Montevallo – Sam Hunt
Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church
Tangled Up – Thomas Rhett
Traveller – Chris Stapleton

Single Record of the Year
"Burning House" – Cam
"Buy Me a Boat" – Chris Janson
"Die a Happy Man" – Thomas Rhett
"Girl Crush "– Little Big Town
"I’m Comin’ Over" – Chris Young
"Take Your Time" – Sam Hunt

Video of the Year
"Biscuits" – Kacey Musgraves
"Burning House" – Cam
"Girl Crush" – Little Big Town
"Mr. Misunderstood" – Eric Church
"Riser" – Dierks Bentley 

Vocal Event of the Year
"Hangover Tonight" – Gary Allan featuring Chris Stapleton
"Home Alone Tonight" – Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild
"Raise 'Em Up" – Keith Urban featuring Eric Church
"Smokin' and Drinkin'" – Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
"Wild Child" – Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter

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