ACM Awards: Chris Stapleton, Eric Church Top Nominations

3:36 PM 3/24/2016

by Phyllis Stark,

Stapleton and Church each earned five Academy of Country Music Awards nominations, announced Monday morning.

Eric Church ACM - H 2015
AP Images

Eric Church ACM - H 2015

Chris Stapleton’s banner year continues. Virtually unknown outside of Nashville’s Music Row this time last year despite a long tenure in the industry, the soulful singer emerged as a star last fall when he won three Country Music Assn. Awards and performed on that show with Justin Timberlake. He then went on to land four Grammy nominations. Now, Stapleton shares the spotlight with fellow country music renegade Eric Church, with each artist earning five Academy of Country Music Awards nominations, announced Monday morning.

Little Big Town received four mentions, but an additional nom for group member Karen Fairchild puts them in the company of Church and Stapleton on the leaderboard. Chris Young and newcomer Cam earned four noms apiece, while Chris Janson, Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett scored three each. Both Cam and Janson are first-time ACM nominees.

Stapleton’s nominations include mentions in both the male vocalist and new male vocalist categories. He also landed a vocal event nomination for “Hangover Tonight,” a collaboration with Gary Allan, plus nominations as both artist and producer in the album of the year category for Traveller. These mark Stapleton’s first nominations as an artist. He was previously nominated as a songwriter in 2014 for “Drink a Beer,” recorded by Luke Bryan (with Stapleton on background vocals).

Church’s nominations include his first in the entertainer of the year category and his third for male vocalist of the year.

Little Big Town racked up its 10th nom in the vocal group of the year category. The foursome also is represented twice this year in the vocal event category, once for the full band’s collaboration with Lambert on “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” and again for Fairchild’s duet with Bryan on his current single, “Home Alone Tonight.”

Cam earned one nomination for new female vocalist, and three more for her single “Burning House,” including credits as both artist and producer on the track. In a clear sign of how challenging the playing field continues to be for female singers in the country format, only four women qualified for the ballot in the new female vocalist category, when all other categories included five nominees. Joining Cam in that category are Kelsea Ballerini (who is also nominated in the female vocalist category), Mickey Guyton and RaeLynn.

Like Cam and Janson, Ballerini, Guyton and RaeLynn are all first-time ACM nominees, as are Chase Rice and the bands Old Dominion, A Thousand Horses and Parmalee.

Young’s new batch of nominations include his first career recognition in the album of the year category — where he earned mentions as both artist and producer on I’m Comin’ Over — and two more as artist and producer on the title track in the single record category. He earned just one previous ACM nomination in 2011, but a win this year would be his first.

would have slept in that horse, worn it, done a song and a dance, and made a much funnier face after eating something very disgusting.” — Amy Poehler to Leonardo DiCaprio"]

Lambert’s nominations include her fifth in the entertainer of the year category, and her 10th consecutive nom in the female vocalist field, which she has won six times. Rhett, meanwhile, scored his first nomination in the Album category for his sophomore set, Tangled Up.

Some of the nominations were shared live Monday on CBS This Morning by Dierks Bentley, and the rest were announced on Winners will be revealed April 3 during the telecast of the 51st ACM Awards, broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas beginning at 8 p.m. ET (tape-delayed PT) on CBS. Bryan will serve as the show’s co-host for the fourth time, joined by first-timer Bentley, who succeeds Blake Shelton in the role. Both Bryan and Bentley scored two noms this year.

In one procedural change, nominees and winners in the entertainer and three newcomer categories (new male vocalist, new female vocalist and new vocal duo or group) revert to being chosen exclusively by the ACM’s professional membership after years of incorporating fan votes.

Following is a list of the nominees revealed so far. Several other categories, including song of the year, will be announced at a later date.

  • Entertainer of the Year

    Jason Aldean (WINNER)

    Garth Brooks

    Luke Bryan

    Eric Church

    Miranda Lambert

    See more ACM Awards: Red Carpet Photos

  • Male Vocalist of the Year

    Chris Stapleton (WINNER)

    Jason Aldean

    Dierks Bentley

    Eric Church

    Brett Eldredge


  • Female Vocalist of the Year

    Miranda Lambert (WINNER)

    Kelsea Ballerini

    Jana Kramer

    Kacey Musgraves

    Carrie Underwood

  • Vocal Duo of the Year

    Florida Georgia Line (WINNER)

    Brothers Osborne

    Dan + Shay

    Joey + Rory

    Maddie & Tae

  • Vocal Group of the Year

    Little Big Town (WINNER)

    Eli Young Band

    Old Dominion

    Rascal Flatts

    Zac Brown Band

  • New Male Vocalist of the Year

    Chris Stapleton (WINNER)

    Brett Eldredge

    Chris Janson

    Thomas Rhett

    Chase Rice


  • New Female Vocalist of the Year

    Kelsea Ballerini (WINNER)


    Mickey Guyton


  • New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year

    Old Dominion (WINNER)

    A Thousand Horses

    Brothers Osborne

    Maddie & Tae


  • Album of the Year

    Traveller – Chris Stapleton (WINNER)
    Producers: Dave Cobb, Chris Stapleton
    Record label: Mercury Records

    I’m Comin’ Over – Chris Young
    Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young
    Record label: RCA Records

    Montevallo – Sam Hunt
    Producers: Zach Crowell, Shane McAnally
    Record label: MCA Nashville

    Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church
    Producer: Jay Joyce
    Record label: EMI Records Nashville

    Tangled Up – Thomas Rhett
    Producers: Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure, Chris DeStefano, Joe London
    Record label: The Valory Music Co.


  • Single Record of the Year

    "Die a Happy Man" – Thomas Rhett (WINNER)
    Producers: Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure
    Record label: The Valory Music Co.

    "Burning House" – Cam
    Producers: Jeff Bhasker, Tyler Johnson, Camaron Ochs
    Record labels: Arista Nashville, RCA Records, Kravenworks

    "Buy Me a Boat" – Chris Janson
    Producers: Brent Anderson, Chris DuBois, Chris Janson
    Record label: Warner Music Nashville

    "Girl Crush" – Little Big Town
    Producer: Jay Joyce
    Record label: Capitol Records Nashville

    "I’m Comin’ Over" – Chris Young
    Producers: Corey Crowder, Chris Young
    Record label: RCA Nashville

    "Take Your Time" – Sam Hunt
    Producers: Zach Crowell, Shane McAnally
    Record label: MCA Nashville

  • Video of the Year

    "Mr. Misunderstood" – Eric Church (WINNER)
    Directors: Reid Long, John Peets
    Producer: Megan Smith

    "Biscuits" – Kacey Musgraves
    Director: Mark Klasfeld
    Producer: Nicole Acacio

    "Burning House" – Cam
    Director: Trey Fanjoy
    Producer: Trent Hardville

    "Girl Crush" – Little Big Town
    Directors: Karla Welch, Matthew Welch
    Producer: Amanda Prunesti

    "Riser" – Dierks Bentley
    Director: Wes Edwards
    Producer: Jennifer Rothlein

  • Vocal Event of the Year

    "Smokin’ And Drinkin’" – Miranda Lambert Featuring Little Big Town (WINNER)
    Producers: Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, Glenn Worf
    Record label: RCA Nashville

    "Hangover Tonight" – Gary Allan Featuring Chris Stapleton
    Producers: Gary Allan, Greg Droman
    Record label: MCA Nashville

    "Home Alone Tonight" – Luke Bryan Featuring Karen Fairchild
    Producers: Jeff Stevens, Jody Stevens
    Record label: Capitol Nashville

    "Raise ‘Em Up" – Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church
    Producers: Nathan Chapman, Keith Urban
    Record labels: Hit Red Records, Capitol Nashville

    "Wild Child" – Kenny Chesney With Grace Potter
    Producers: Buddy Cannon, Kenny Chesney
    Record labels: Blue Chair Records, Columbia Nashville