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Eric Church, Little Big Town Lead 2015 CMA Awards Nominations

Church scores first-ever CMA Entertainer of the Year nod, while Chris Stapleton and Kelsea Ballerini also make strong showings

Eric ChurchEric Church

Eric Church scored five CMA Award nominations, including Entertainer of the Year. He and Little Big Town lead all nominees at this year's ceremonies.

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Eric Church

Eric Church and Little Big Town lead all nominees at this year’s 49th CMA Awards. The high-energy performer and the acclaimed “Girl Crush” vocal group each scored five nominations when the categories were revealed this morning. 

For Church, the nominations mark his first time competing in the coveted Entertainer of the Year category. He’ll face off with reigning Entertainer Luke Bryan, the out-of-retirement Garth Brooks, two-time Entertainer nominee Miranda Lambert and four-time winner Kenny Chesney, with whom Church shared stadium stages this summer. The “Like a Wrecking Ball” singer also received nominations in the Male Vocalist of the Year category, Single of the Year for “Talladega,” Song of the Year for “Wrecking Ball” and Musical Event of the Year for his collaboration with Keith Urban, “Raise ‘Em Up.”

Related: Fall Country Music Preview 2015: 25 Essential Albums, Events

Little Big Town, meanwhile, are soaring on the strength of the universally lauded single “Girl Crush.” The ballad scored the quartet a Single of the Year nomination, and Song of the Year recognition for its writers Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey. Little Big Town are also nominated for Vocal Group of the Year, Video of the Year (“Girl Crush”), Musical Event (for “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” with Miranda Lambert) and Album of the Year for their sixth studio effort, Pain Killer.

Chris Stapleton, however, stands as the biggest surprise of the CMA nominations. The hit songwriter behind Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” and Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn” released his debut solo album Traveller in May and voters clearly took notice. Stapleton is up for Album of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist, with no less than Bryan recently describing Stapleton as a “miraculous singer” to Rolling Stone Country.

Breakout artist Kelsea Ballerini, who announced the nominations with Steven Tyler on Good Morning America, also turned in a strong showing, scoring a Female Vocalist of the Year nomination and a slot in the New Artist field. Along with Stapleton, she’ll compete against Sam Hunt, Maddie & Tae and Thomas Rhett in the New Artist race.

Here is the complete list of nominees for the 49th CMA Awards. The ceremonies will be broadcast live Wednesday, November 4th, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Entertainer of the Year 
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Kenny Chesney
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert

Album of the Year
Old Boots, New Dirt – Jason Aldean
Pageant Material – Kacey Musgraves
Pain Killer – Little Big Town
The Big Revival – Kenny Chesney
Traveller – Chris Stapleton

Single of the Year
“American Kids” – Kenny Chesney
“Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
“I Don’t Dance” – Lee Brice
“Take Your Time” – Sam Hunt
“Talladega” – Eric Church

Song of the Year
“American Kids” (Kenny Chesney)
“Girl Crush” (Little Big Town)
“Like a Cowboy” (Randy Houser)
“Like a Wrecking Ball” (Eric Church)
“Take Your Time” (Sam Hunt)

Male Vocalist of the Year
Dierks Bentley
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Chris Stapleton

Female Vocalist of the Year
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood
Lee Ann Womack

New Artist of the Year
Kelsea Ballerini
Sam Hunt
Maddie & Tae
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton

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

Vocal Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Music Video of the Year
“Biscuits” – Kacey Musgraves
“Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
“Girl in a Country Song” – Maddie & Tae
“Little Red Wagon” – Miranda Lambert
“Something in the Water” – Carrie Underwood

Musical Event of the Year
Django and Jimmie – Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
“Lonely Tonight” – Blake Shelton featuring Ashley Monroe
“Raise ‘Em Up” – Keith Urban featuring Eric Church
“Smokin’ and Drinkin'” – Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town
“Wild Child” – Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter

Musician of the Year
Sam Bush (Mandolin)
Jerry Douglas (Dobro)
Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
Dann Huff (Guitar)
Mac McAnally (Guitar)


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