Music

CMA Awards Nominees Announced

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The CMA Awards often spotlight a familiar cast of characters in mainstream country music, but this year’s nominees include one notable difference in the show’s pattern.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, one of the top independent country and Americana acts, are nominated for Album of the Year for their phenomenal record The Nashville Sound.

That particular nomination is notable for a few reasons. For one, Isbell and company operate outside of the mainstream format. Their music isn’t played on country radio and they’re not signed to a major record label. Isbell has also been vocal about his distaste for mainstream country, and that’s often frowned upon by the establishment.

Additionally, it’s unusual for CMAs to give a nod to the type of content conveyed through Isbell’s songs. The Nashville Sound, along with Isbell’s other material, explores the realities of blue-collar life in the South and often overlooks corners or rural — stuff that country radio always shies away from.

Isbell’s music has powerful and timely messages about being an American in the modern era, so it’s encouraging to see his songs will be getting some prime time attention.

A CMA Awards win for Isbell and company could have a powerful effect on his career, and the careers of other independent artists following in his footsteps. As a case study, we often look at what happened immediately after Stapleton’s awards sweep in 2015. Sales of his album spiked almost instantly, and he has continued a massively successful ride even unto today.

We would be remiss, however, to not mention the other standout country music performers and albums nominated this year. Chris Stapleton’s strong sophomore album, From A Room, Vol. 1, was also nominated for Album of the Year, as was Miranda Lambert’s standout The Weight of These Wings

2017 CMA Awards nominees

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

SINGLE OF THE YEAR
“Better Man” – Little Big Town
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
“Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt
“Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi
“Tin Man” – Miranda Lambert

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The Breaker – Little Big Town
From A Room: Volume 1 – Chris Stapleton
Heart Break – Lady Antebellum
The Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
The Weight of These Wings – Miranda Lambert

SONG OF THE YEAR
“Better Man” – Songwriter: Taylor Swift
“Blue Ain’t Your Color”- Songwriters: Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Lee Olsen
“Body Like A Back Road”- Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
“Dirt On My Boots”- Songwriters: Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley
“Tin Man”- Songwriters: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Reba McEntire
Maren Morris
Carrie Underwood

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Dierks Bentley
Eric Church
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
LOCASH
Maddie & Tae

MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
“Craving You” – Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
“Funny How Time Slips Away” – Glen Campbell with Willie Nelson
“Kill A Word” – Eric Church featuring Rhiannon Giddens
“Setting the World on Fire” – Kenny Chesney with P!nk
“Speak to a Girl” – Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Jerry Douglas (Dobro)
Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
Dann Huff (Guitar)
Mac McAnally (Guitar)
Derek Wells (Guitar)

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
“Better Man” – Little Big Town
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
“Craving You” – Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
“It Ain’t My Fault” – Brothers Osborne
“Vice” – Miranda Lambert

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Lauren Alaina
Luke Combs
Old Dominion
Jon Pardi
Brett Young

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CMA Awards Nominees Announced