Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell have been revealed as the final nominees for 2015 ACM New Artist of the Year after the first round of online fan voting. That tally was combined with the ACM professional membership vote to determine the finalists for the award, presented by Kohl’s department stores. Other semi-finalists now knocked out of the race were Brett Eldredge, Tyler Farr, Kip Moore Chase Rice and Dan + Shay.
The final round of fan voting between Hunt, Rhett and Swindell will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET on April 8th at VoteACM.com, with the winner announced live during the 50th annual ACM Awards, set for April 19th on CBS. Leading up to the show, CMT will premiere a special ACM-themed episode of its weekly series, CMT Hot 20 Countdown, featuring the New Artist of the Year nominees.
Sam Hunt scored a Number One single with “Leave the Night On,” and also reached the top with his genre-hoping album, Montevallo. Thomas Rhett, who’s currently prepping the follow-up to his debut LP, It Goes Like This, scored three consecutive Top Five singles from that release. Fellow chart-topper Cole Swindell will spend much of the spring on Jason Aldean’s Burn It Down Tour, and released his Down Home Sessions EP in November.
Rhett and Swindell were also both nominated for the CMA Best New Artist award last November, but both lost to Brett Eldregde. At the time of those awards, Rhett joked to Rolling Stone Country, “Me and Cole are pretty tight. So while he’s on his way up there, I’ll probably punch him in the stomach.”
To see who wins (or who might take a punch to the gut), tune in to the ACM Awards live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, April 19th at 8:00 p.m. ET (delayed PT) on CBS.