Country Music Association voters have finally given their awards show hostess recognition in a category in which her exclusion has arguably been a head-scratcher for years. Carrie Underwood has her first-ever CMA Entertainer of the Year nod.
“I feel happy, excited, blessed, surprised, humbled, & incredibly thankful,” she tweeted after hearing the news Wednesday.
The country superstar is also up for Album of the Year (Storyteller), Female Vocalist of the Year and Musical Event of the Year for “The Fighter” with Keith Urban. The duet partners each have four nominations, as does Dierks Bentley. Eric Church, Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton lead this year’s nominees with five nods apiece.
This year is proving to be an unpredictable one for the CMA Awards. Two categories, in particular, are anyone’s game: Female Vocalist and Album of the Year. Joining Underwood in the former category are Morris, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini and Kasey Musgraves. Lambert has won that category every year since 2010. Another victory for the “Vice” singer may be unlikely, given she was in between albums during the eligibility period, but she’s still a strong contender. Underwood and Ballerini are the two nominees here with the most country radio success in the past year, while Morris and Musgraves are critic darlings who also hold their own on the charts. Album of the Year is even tougher, with chart-topping, critically acclaimed albums by Bentley, Morris, Church, Urban and Underwood.
Morris could easily be 2016’s Chris Stapleton. As a first-time nominee last year, the “Fire Away” singer won all three categories in which he was nominated — beating veteran superstars in the Album and Male Vocalist categories. Morris could very well do the same in her first year as a nominee.
With the likes of newbies Morris and Stapleton dominating categories this year, some of the usual suspects didn’t make the cut. The biggest shocker is Blake Shelton’s name missing from the 2016 nominees list — for the first time in seven years. Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Brett Eldredge, Margo Price and Brandy Clark are other surprising snubs. And while Cam does have two nominations (Song and Video of the Year for “Burning House”), her exclusion from the Best New Artist category is pretty confusing.
Check out the full list of 2016 CMA Awards nominees here.