The 2015 CMA Awards air live from Nashville next Wednesday evening, bringing with it one of the most competitive Album of the Year contests in years. Pitting older mainstays like Kenny Chesney against newer such as Chris Stapleton, the category shines a light not only on some of the year's biggest country singers, but also the producers who helped shape their most recent releases.
When Miranda Lambert took home the trophy last year for Platinum, she was one of only six females in history to do so. This year, the nominees for Album of the Year are mostly males once again, with only Kacey Musgraves and the coeds in Little Big Town breaking up the boys' club of Stapleton, Chesney and Jason Aldean. Musgraves' Pageant Material and Stapleton's Traveller are the contest's two dark horses, both albums reaching a degree of mainstream recognition without producing the same number of chart-topping singles as, say, Aldean's Old Boots, New Dirt. Meanwhile, Chesney's The Big Revival is easily the most hit-heavy album of the bunch, armed with four Number One songs, while Little Big Town's Pain Killer includes the most talked-about song of the year, "Girl Crush." It's any man's — or woman's — game.
The YouTube channel Country Now sat down with Little Big Town, Dave Cobb (Stapleton's Traveller), Buddy Cannon (Chesney's The Big Revival), Michael Knox (Aldean's Old Boots, New Dirt) and the co-producing team of Luke Laird and Shane McAnally (Musgraves' Pageant Material) to talk about the studio sessions behind this year's nominated records. Watch their exclusive interviews below.