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Chris Stapleton tops nominees for ACM Awards

Keith Urban goes for the triple crown, Reba returns and Chris Stapleton has his coming-out party: These are the major plotlines that emerged Thursday with the announcement of the nominees for the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards. The ceremony will take place April 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Stapleton leads the way with eight nominations in five categories, including his first nod for entertainer of the year. He’s also up for male vocalist of the year, album of the year and single record of the year (Stapleton is nominated twice in the last three categories as both artist and producer).

He’ll be going up against Keith Urban for entertainer of the year honors. Urban, who was nominated five times, won top new male vocalist of the year in 2000 and top male vocalist of the year in 2004 and 2005. Should he win entertainer of the year, Urban would become just the eighth performer to take home the trophy in all three categories. The 2017 entertainer of the year, Jason Aldean, has won the triple crown and is competing in the category once again this year. He was also nominated for the eighth time for male vocalist of the year.

The ACMs, which will be televised on CBS at 8 p.m. April 15, will once again be hosted by Reba McEntire, who last presided over the festivities in 2012. She returns for the 15th time.

Speaking of big-voiced singers, reigning female vocalist of the year Miranda Lambert scored four nominations, including her 12th nod for female vocalist of the year, which she’s won the past eight years, setting a record. She’s tied for winningest artist in ACM history with 29 awards, along with Brooks & Dunn.

Last year’s new female vocalist of the year, Maren Morris, received four nominations.

Other notable nominees: 2017 male vocalist of the year Thomas Rhett, with six nods; “Body Like a Back Road” singer Sam Hunt, who earned three; songwriter Shane McAnally, who’s up for four; returning vocal group of the year champs Little Big Town, who earned their 12th nomination in the category. This would be Little Big Town’s fourth consecutive win and fifth overall. The group is also nominated for album of the year and single record of the year.

And in a fresh twist for some familiar faces, 18-time ACM winner Tim McGraw and 16-time winner Faith Hill received their first nomination as a duo in the vocal duo of the year category.

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