Leading eight ACM noms comes natural for Strait

Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts next

George Strait, whose first single charted in 1981, leads all nominees for the Academy of Country Music Awards with eight, including entertainer of the year and album of the year for "It Just Comes Natural." Strait hasn't won an ACM nod since 1997, when he picked up three awards.

The nominations were announced Monday at the Country Music Hall of Fame here. The noms were introduced by reigning ACM entertainer of the year Kenny Chesney, who picked up two nominations, including entertainer, and Sugarland, which is nominated in the top vocal duo division.

Brooks & Dunn earned seven noms, including entertainer and album of the year, while the duo's Ronnie Dunn also picked up a nom in the vocal event category for "I Don't Want To," on which he appeared with Ashley Monroe.

Meanwhile, Rascal Flatts scored six nominations, including entertainer of the year, best album and best single.

A two-time winner in 2006, Carrie Underwood received five nominations, including top female vocalist and album of the year, while duo Big & Rich got four. Individually, the pair's John Rich also picked up a nom for producing Gretchen Wilson's single "Politically Uncorrect," which features Merle Haggard and is nominated in the vocal event category.

Vince Gill, John Turner and Wilson all received three noms each.

The 42nd annual ACM Awards will be held May 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The show will air on CBS.

A complete list of nominees is available at www.hollywood reporter.com.

Ken Tucker is a correspondent for Billboard.