ABC - Country Music News

L-R: Emily Robison and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks; Rick Kern/WireImage

Dixie Chicks fans have been waiting a long time for new music from the trio, but it seems as if that wait is finally coming to an end. For over a year, the band has been hinting on social media that they’ve got a new, Jack Antonoff-produced album in the works. 

Over the course of several months, more details began to fall into place: It seems as if the Chicks are planning an album called Gaslighter, with a single of the same name to be released. 

Friday, the band posted some exciting news to their recently wiped and revamped Instagram page: They uploaded a picture of a black screen with the word “Gaslighter” on it, as well as a definition of the term: "A psychological manipulator who seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a group, making them question their own memory, perception or sanity."

“3.4.2020,” the band wrote in the caption of the post.

Additionally, the post -- and an identical Instagram story -- features a half-second clip of the single, including the three band mates singing the title in harmony. A link in the Chicks' Instagram story takes fans to their website, which reads, simply, “Dixie Chicks 2020” and invites fans to sign up for updates. 

While the band is still keeping their cards pretty close to the chest, it’s apparent that something -- most likely, their new single -- will come out next Wednesday, March 4. 

When they do release their next album, it’ll be the first full-length original project from the Dixie Chicks since 2006. The band effectively got benched by country radio after frontwoman Natalie Maines spoke out against President George Bush and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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Adam TaylorA self-proclaimed balladeer and R&B enthusiast, Brett Young is always game to stretch the boundaries of the country format -- especially for a song with thoughtful, well-crafted lyrics. The singer says that’s what first drew him to “I Do,” his new duet with Norwegian pop singer Astrid S. 

“I was so honored to be asked to collaborate on this track with Astrid. When I first heard ‘I Do,’ I instantly connected to the lyrics and the story-telling,” Brett explains. “So jumping onboard and digging into something a little different was a no-brainer for me.”

Astrid co-wrote the song, and while its sonic influences sound very pop-forward, “I Do” is a classic call-and-response duet between a male and female singer -- a type of song that’s a staple in the country genre. In fact, the singer says that she’s a big fan of country. 

“I’ve grown up with country music -- it’s a genre I admire very much and it’s been a big influence and inspiration throughout the years in my songwriting," says Astrid.  "I’m so happy Brett wanted to do this song with me.”

Brett is currently in the midst of his headlining Chapters tour in support of his latest album, Ticket to L.A. Next month, he’ll bring his live show to Europe, and maybe he’ll even get the chance to perform “I Do” live with Astrid -- the overseas leg of dates includes a stop in her home country of Norway.

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Julie PaisleyLauren Akins has already amassed a loyal fan base as the wife of country superstar Thomas Rhett. Now Lauren has written a memoir called Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes, which details her love story with her husband, as well as the challenges they face together as their family continues to grow. 

The book will be on sale beginning May 5, and Lauren will embark on a nine-stop tour in support of the memoir. The run kicks off on May 2 at the James K. Polk Theater in the couple’s hometown of Nashville. 

Each ticket for Lauren’s Live in Love Tour includes a copy of the memoir, and additional VIP packages are available, too. For a complete itinerary and purchasing details, visit Lauren's website.

Live in Love details Lauren’s journey into becoming who she is today. It includes the story of her mission work in Haiti and Uganda, explaining how she and Thomas adopted the Ugandan child who is now their oldest daughter, Willa. The couple have since welcomed two more children, including their youngest, Lennon, who was born earlier this month.

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ABC RadioGarth Brooks played a stadium tour stop in Detroit recently, and the country superstar had such a great time at the show that he shared a photograph of himself on social media wearing a jersey for Barry Sanders, the retired Detroit Lions NFL running back. 

“Detroit you carried me all night long, but you always have. I’m in love with you!” Garth wrote. 

Unfortunately, several of the fans commenting on his post mistook his jersey for a show of support for Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders -- and their sentiments weren’t quite as sweet as Garth’s. 

“Good grief. Can’t you just do what you get paid to do???? Why why why does it have to involve politics!!! So sad,” wrote one commenter. “We don’t pay good money for anything other than to watch you perform. Thought you were different.”

Still, many of the people who saw Garth’s post seemed to know which Sanders we was talking about, including the football great himself, who responded by re-posted the picture on his own Instagram account. 

“Hey Garth Brooks, want to be my VP? Thanks for the shout out at your Detroit show!” Barry wrote. 

When asked about politics, Garth has a long history of emphasizing unity, but has never come out strongly in support of any one side. People magazine points out that he performed for President Barack Obama’s inauguration but not President Donald Trump’s, although the official reason was scheduling conflicts. 

“You’ve got to understand that when you get to heaven, nobody cares about ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat’ in heaven at all. ‘Welcome to heaven. This is it,’” Garth said, per People. “If we’re going to get anywhere as a human race, this is the path we want to follow.”

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Big Machine RecordsMidland celebrate their honky-tonking roots on their new album Live From the Palomino, which is out now. The trio recorded the project during a one-night-only show at Hollywood's famed Palomino club in October of 2019.  It's the same place where they filmed the music video for their newest single, “Cheatin’ Songs.”

In its heyday, the North Hollywood Palomino club was a top West Coast destination for country stars like Willie NelsonPatsy Cline and Johnny Cash, but the venue shut its doors in 1995. Midland reopened the Palomino for one unforgettable performance. 

To celebrate their live album’s release, the band has also revealed a performance music video for “Fast Hearts and Slow Towns,” one of their set list’s highlights. 

Next up, Midland will bring their high-energy live show and traditional leanings to the Houston Rodeo for a performance next Tuesday, March 3. They’ve got an overseas leg of their Let it Roll Tour planned for this spring, before joining forces with Tim McGraw for his headlining Here on Earth Tour.

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MCA NashvilleSam Hunt is gearing up to drop his first album in six years, and the superstar has plans to party in style. He's set an album release party and show for April 3, the same day his new project, Southside, comes out.

Taking place at Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas, the show will feature multiple surprise guests. Tickets go on sale next Friday, March 6. It’ll be a preview of Sam’s upcoming Southside Summer Tour 2020, which kicks off this May and includes supporting acts Kip MooreTravis Denning and Ernest

Sam has already shared a handful of the tracks off of Southside, including “Sinning with You,” “Hard to Forget” and the current chart-topping single, “Kinfolks.” The 12-song project also features some tunes fans already know and love, such as Sam's 2017 smash hit, “Body Like a Back Road.”

At the 2020 Country Radio Seminar, the singer also debuted another heartbreak ballad, called “2016.” That song is the first track on Southside.

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Big Machine RecordsPowerhouse duo Sugarland revisit three live show highlights from their newest album, Bigger, on a just-released EP. Called Bigger, Louder, Live, the project was recorded during the band’s headlining show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Bigger, Louder, Live consists of “On a Roll,” “Bigger” and “Babe” -- three of the best-loved tracks off of their 2018 studio album. The new recordings put a fresh perspective on the songs, as Sugarland prepare to launch a new chapter of music over the coming year.

Meanwhile, the duo also has big summer tour plans lined up for 2020. They’ll hit the road for their headlining There Goes the Neighborhood Tour, a trek that begins June 4 in Toronto and spans across 26 North American cities.

Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tenille Townes will join the trek, with Danielle Bradbery also appearing on select dates. Visit the group’s website for a complete list of dates and venue information.

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Diego PerníaNobody tours quite like the Zac Brown Band. A perennial live favorite known for lengthy, creative outings and an action-packed show, the group spends much of their lives on the road -- so it’s fitting that tour life is the subject of their new music video for “Me and the Boys in the Band.”

The clip takes fans behind the scenes and onto ZBB’s tour bus, leading them from festival to festival and stage to stage. Between shows, the group checks out a local arcade, swings by a gas station to pick up pork rinds, and even poses for a photo shoot in the woods. 

The “Me and the Boys in the Band” video debuts just in time for the band to hit the road again after a short break. Friday night, they’re launching the spring 2020 leg of their The Owl tour, a trek that takes its name from the album the group released last September. 

Footage for the “Me and the Boys in the Band” music video was captured during the previous leg of the tour last summer, as well as during 2019’s Down the Rabbit Hole Tour.

Even though their current run of dates is just starting, ZBB already has plans to hit the road again after The Owl tour wraps: This summer, they’ll head out on a brand-new Roar with the Lions tour.

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Comstock/ThinkstockOn this day in 1963, this country icon gave her final television performance before dying in a plane crash just five days later. She sang “San Antonio Rose” and “I Fall to Pieces” on The Glenn Reeves Show. Do you know who it was? ANSWER: Patsy Cline.

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John Shearer/Getty Images for Amazon MusicKelsea Ballerini is counting down the days until her third studio album, kelsea, drops on March 20. She says the project is “my favorite body of music yet,” and to celebrate, she's shared another song off the collection with her fans.

Called “hole in the bottle,” the new tune is all about enjoying the occasional glass (or bottle) of wine in the name of erasing the memory of heartbreak. 

“There’s a hole in the bottle, leakin’ all this wine / It’s already empty, it ain’t even suppertime,” Kelsea sings in the song’s chorus. “No, I don’t miss him, in fact it slipped my mind / There’s a hole in the bottle of wine...”

Just before dropping her new tune, Kelsea unveiled the full, 13-song album track list on Instagram. “Here are the 13 pieces of me that I get to share with you March 20,” she wrote. “What are you most excited about?!”

Fans had lots to choose from in response to that question: kelsea’s track list includes a couple of exciting, high-profile duets. One song, “The Other Girl,” is a duet with pop superstar Halsey, with whom Kelsea also recently teamed for a forthcoming episode of CMT’s Crossroads

Kelsea’s not neglecting her country roots, though. Another of the new album’s songs, “half of my hometown,” features vocal contributions from none other than Kenny Chesney. Other tracks on kelsea include the previously shared “club” and “la,” as well as its lead single, “homecoming queen?,” which cracked the top twenty at country radio last month.

Here’s the full track list for kelsea

“overshare”
“club”
“homecoming queen?”
“the other girl” (with Halsey)
“love me like a girl”
“love and hate”
“bragger”
“hole in the bottle”
“half of my hometown” (feat. Kenny Chesney)
“the way I used to”
“needy”
“a country song”
“la”

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ABC/Gavin BondThis Sunday, the auditions continue on season three of American Idol on ABC, and during his time on the show, Luke Bryan's come to believe potential superstars basically fall into two categories.

"Most of the time, the real talent, from the first note they sing, you can feel the emotion," Luke explains. "You get chill bumps all over your body."

"But occasionally, too," he continues, "there's that hard-working kid out there that America just falls in love with. They fall in love with the personality, who they are, their background. It becomes that star quality, and once they get a little confidence on their side, the ball starts rolling."

Ultimately, Luke believes it comes down to a contestant's God-given abilities. But he says there are two kinds of those as well.

"We have a lot of kids that God has just given them the talent," he reflects. "But then we have a lot of kids where God has given them the work ethic and humbleness and the 'aw shucks' factor. And America falls in love with that."

Luke, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry continue narrowing the field of contestants Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, when the latest episode of American Idol premieres on ABC. 

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Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockPerennial bluegrass favorites Jim Lauderdale and Rhonda Vincent will host a new PBS special, Bluegrass Now!, premiering tomorrow evening. Filmed live at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Museum in Kentucky, the showcase features acts like Molly Tuttle and Dan Tyminski

John Prine has been added to the lineup for the 2020 Pickathon. The Oregon festival is set to take place July 30-August 2.

Reckless Kelly has shared their latest single, “North American Jackpot.” The band is set to drop not one but two albums on May 22. Their new song is the title track for one of those projects; the other is called American Girls.

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ABC/Image Group LAEight months into her pregnancy, Maren Morris is serving up some “real talk” for her fans. On her Instagram stories, the singer shared a snapshot of herself working out with help from celebrity trainer Erin Oprea, who’s also known for coaching the likes of Kelsea Ballerini and Carrie Underwood

Underneath the image, Maren offered an unfiltered look into what life in the last trimester of pregnancy has been like.

“I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy journey and have worked out with Erin Oprea and tried to eat relatively clean throughout,” she wrote. “I’m 5’1 and have gained 40 lbs, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

The singer added that overall, being pregnant has been a great experience for her.

“Even with the lower back pain and my anemia-prone BS, I have really enjoyed being pregnant,” she explained. “I hope this little boy is as kind to me on the outside as he’s been on the inside, because I will miss his kicks.”

Still, Maren admitted that she’s excited to move on to the next stage of her motherhood journey.  “But really, this is his eviction notice,” she joked.

Maren’s baby boy, who's due in March, is her first child with her husband, fellow country artist Ryan Hurd.

Maren  singer recently announced a string of upcoming tour dates beginning in June, and the run will be a family affair: Ryan’s opening for her during the tour, by which time the couple will have welcomed their son.

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ABC/Todd WawrychukLast year, Luke Combs won an ACM Award for New Male Artist of the Year. This year, he’s made a massive jump up the ranks, and might even take home the title of Entertainer of the Year.

On social media, Luke celebrated his three ACM nods after the full list of nominees was announced on Thursday morning. “Thanks to my stellar team, the fans, my family, friends, country radio and the ACM Awards for this crazy ride we’re on,” he wrote.

Luke is also nominated in the categories of Male Artist of the Year, as well as Album of the Year for his sophomore outing, What You See is What You Get. That album, as well as his freshman project, This One’s for You, have broken a wide range of records on the album charts and at country radio.

If he wins in this year’s Entertainer category, Luke will have yet another record to hang his hat on: He’ll have made the jump from New Male Artist to Entertainer in the span of a single year, a feat that no other nominee has accomplished before. The record for making that jump the fastest is currently held by Mickey Gilley and the Dixie Chicks, both of whom rose from New Artist Awards to the ACM’s highest honor over the course of two years.

Luke shares his spot in the Entertainer category nominees with Luke BryanCarrie UnderwoodEric Church and Thomas Rhett. Like Luke, Thomas is a first-time nominee for the Entertainer of the Year title.

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Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesRising artist Caylee Hammack is among the up-and-comers nominated for New Female Artist of the Year at the 2020 ACM Awards. When she learned the news, Caylee says she had a rather emotional moment -- in a pretty public place.

“Yes, I just cried in an airport bathroom over this,” the singer wrote on social media. “Sorry if you were waiting to pee, I needed a moment.”

Caylee went on to celebrate her fellow nominees in the category, shouting out Gabby BarrettIngrid AndressLindsay Ell and Tenille Townes. In addition to their New Female Artist mentions, Caylee and Tenille share a nomination in another category, too: They’re both up for Music Event of the Year for their participation in the Miranda Lambert-helmed cover of Elvin Bishop's “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”

“You don’t know how validating it feels to be included in such an amazing group of hard-working female artists,” Caylee continued. “We all have been through the grind and still grinding, while rocking heels and lashes on top of it all. It is an honor to know y’all and watch all of you shine in your own way.”

It’s been a big year for Caylee, who toured with Miranda in 2019 and also released her debut single, “Family Tree,” to radio.

The 2020 ACM Awards will take place on April 5,  broadcast live on CBS from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Ryan SmithRiley Green woke up to his first-ever nomination for an ACM award this morning, and not surprisingly, the rising country singer is still pinching himself. 

“It is such an honor to be nominated. The country music community has been so accepting of me as a new artist, and this for me is validation that all of our hard work is paying off,” Riley reflected. “It doesn’t seem real to have my name included with all the other great nominees but I sure appreciate it.”

Riley is nominated in the New Male Artist of the Year category. He’s up against Jordan DavisRussell DickersonCody Johnson and Morgan Wallen

The singer enjoyed a breakout year in 2019, notching his first chart-topping radio hit with “There Was This Girl.” He stayed busy on the road last year, opening for the likes of Brad Paisley and Jon Pardi, as well as helming his own headlining Get That Man a Beer Tour. He’s currently on the road opening for Jason Aldean.

The 2020 ACM Awards are set to take place in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 5. Riley’s got plans after the big event, too: He’ll host his own Riley Green & Friends show at 10PM that night, with help from additional, soon-to-be-announced special guests.

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Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and MuseumFans got big news from Keith Urban Thursday morning.  The singer not only announced that he's hosting the 2020 ACM Awards, he also has a new single out, with even more music on the horizon. 

The new song, called “God Whispered Your Name,” is Keith’s first release of 2020. It’s an R&B-inflected love song all about life-changing love. Just days before officially dropping the new single, Keith debuted it live at the 2020 Country Radio Seminar in Nashville.

When he announced the song on social media, Keith teased that it’s not the only new song he’s got lined up for release this year. In fact, he hinted, he just might have a new album on the way.

“We have brand new music finally,” he told his fans in an Instagram post, adding that the tune is “part of a whole bunch of new music that is coming out very soon.”

In the meantime, Keith is headed to Las Vegas for the 2020 ACM Awards April 5. It’s his first time hosting the event, and he’s also nominated in the category of Male Artist of the Year. The ACM Awards will broadcast live on CBS from Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Comstock/ThinkstockOn this day in 2002, this country singer was at the top of the country album chart with his 10th studio album, Drive. The project included hits like “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” Do you know who it is? ANSWER: Alan Jackson.

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Academy of Country MusicMaren Morris and Thomas Rhett lead the nominations for the upcoming 55th Academy of Country Music Awards, with five nods each. It’s significant that TR also grabs his first career nomination for Entertainer this year.

Dan Shay are right there with Maren and TR, though this is where it gets a little complicated. Dan Shay have four nominations as a duo, with Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney each picking up another mention for co-writing their Song of the Year contender, “10,000 Hours.” Dan also gets an extra nod in the Music Event category for producing the song.

Dan Shay’s collaborator, Justin Bieber, grabs his first four chances to win an ACM this year as well, presenting the perfect opportunity for the three to perform their smash together for the first time live on the show.

Blake Shelton gets four mentions this year as well, as does reigning Vocal Group of the Year Old Dominion. OD members Matthew RamseyTrevor Rosen, and Brad Tursi could take home one more trophy for writing their Song of the Year contender, “One Man Band.”

Eric ChurchMiranda LambertAshley McBrydeKacey Musgraves, and Luke Combs each have a shot at three awards, with Luke getting his first chance to take home Entertainer of the Year.

Reigning ACM Entertainer Keith Urban will preside over the festivities for the first time ever, when the awards are handed out Sunday, April 5 starting at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the show live from MGM Grand Garden Arena on CBS.

Here’s the complete rundown of the nominees:

Entertainer of the Year
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett
Carrie Underwood 

Female Artist of the Year
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood

Male Artist of the Year
Dierks Bentley
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Duo of the Year
Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne
Dan Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae

Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Midland
Old Dominion
The Highwomen

New Female Artist of the Year
Ingrid Andress
Gabby Barrett
Lindsey Ell
Caylee Hammack
Tenille Townes

New Male Artist of the Year
Jordan Davis
Russell Dickerson
Riley Green
Cody Johnson
Morgan Wallen

Album of the Year
Center Point Road -- Thomas Rhett
GIRL -- Maren Morris
Heartache Medication -- Jon Pardi
What You See Is What You Get -- Luke Combs
Wildcard -- Miranda Lambert 

Single of the Year
"God's Country" -- Blake Shelton
"One Man Band" -- Old Dominion
"Rainbow" -- Kacey Musgraves
"Rumor" -- Lee Brice
"What If I Never Get over You" -- Lady Antebellum

Song of the Year
"10,000 Hours" -- Dan Shay featuring Justin Bieber
"Girl Goin' Nowhere" -- Ashley McBryde
"God's Country" -- Blake Shelton
"One Man Band" -- Old Dominion
"Some of It" -- Eric Church

Video of the Year
"10,000 Hours" -- Dan Shay featuring Justin Bieber
"God's Country" -- Blake Shelton
"One Man Band" -- Old Dominion
"Remember You Young" -- Thomas Rhett
"Sugar Coat" -- Little Big Town

Songwriter of the Year
Ashley Gorley
HARDY
Hillary Lindsey
Shane McAnally
Josh Osborne

Music Event of the Year
"10,000 Hours" -- Dan Shay featuring Justin Bieber
"Dive Bar" -- Garth Brooks featuring Blake Shelton
"Fooled Around and Fell in Love" -- Miranda Lambert featuring Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, Caylee Hammack, and Elle King
"Old Town Road" -- Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
"What Happens in a Small Town" -- Brantley Gilbert featuring Lindsey Ell

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Academy of Country MusicThe 55th Academy of Country Music Awards, hosted for the first time by Keith Urban, will be handed out Sunday, April 5 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and broadcast live on CBS.

The nominees were announced Thursday morning via the ACM's Twitter:

Video of the Year
"10,000 Hours" -- Dan Shay featuring Justin Bieber
"God's Country" -- Blake Shelton
"One Man Band" -- Old Dominion
"Remember You Young" -- Thomas Rhett
"Sugar Coat" -- Little Big Town

Songwriter of the Year
Ashley Gorley
HARDY
Hillary Lindsey
Shane McAnally
Josh Osborne

Music Event of the Year
"10,000 Hours" -- Dan Shay featuring Justin Bieber
"Dive Bar" -- Garth Brooks featuring Blake Shelton
"Fooled Around and Fell in Love" -- Miranda Lambert featuring Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, Caylee Hammack, and Elle King
"Old Town Road" -- Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
"What Happens in a Small Town" -- Brantley Gilbert featuring Lindsey Ell

Single of the Year
"God's Country" -- Blake Shelton
"One Man Band" -- Old Dominion
"Rainbow" -- Kacey Musgraves
"Rumor" -- Lee Brice
"What If I Never Get over You" -- Lady Antebellum

Song of the Year
"10,000 Hours" -- Dan Shay featuring Justin Bieber
"Girl Goin' Nowhere" -- Ashley McBryde
"God's Country" -- Blake Shelton
"One Man Band" -- Old Dominion
"Some of It" -- Eric Church

Album of the Year
Center Point Road -- Thomas Rhett
GIRL -- Maren Morris
Heartache Medication -- Jon Pardi
What You See Is What You Get -- Luke Combs
Wildcard -- Miranda Lambert 

Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Midland
Old Dominion
The Highwomen

Duo of the Year
Brooks & Dunn
Brothers Osborne
Dan Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Maddie & Tae

New Female Artist of the Year
Ingrid Andress
Gabby Barrett
Lindsey Ell
Caylee Hammack
Tenille Townes

New Male Artist of the Year
Jordan Davis
Russell Dickerson
Riley Green
Cody Johnson
Morgan Wallen

Female Artist of the Year
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood

Male Artist of the Year
Dierks Bentley
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Entertainer of the Year
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Luke Combs
Thomas Rhett
Carrie Underwood 

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