Billed as "Country Music's Party of the Year," fans can surely expect just that when the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards takes over the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for its live broadcast on April 6. As previously announced, the hosts for the evening will be a familiar duo in Blake Shelton and reigning ACM Entertainer of the year, Luke Bryan, who are set to host together for a second straight year. Individually, it will be Shelton's fourth consecutive year co-hosting.
The two will be in good company during the telecast, as on Jan. 29, ACM Awards 2014 nominations were revealed and feature a hearty crop of prime country talent. Shelton's better half, Miranda Lambert, and fellow industry veteran, Tim McGraw, led all nominees with seven nods apiece, followed by Keith Urban with six, Shelton, Taylor Swift, Lee Brice, and Kacey Musgraves with five, Florida Georgia Line and Lady Antebellum with four, and Bryan and Darius Rucker with three.
Both Shelton and Bryan are up for the coveted, fan-selected ACM Entertainer of the Year Award, along with Lambert, Swift, and the "King of Country" himself, George Strait. The hosts also will go head-to-head in the Male Vocalist of the Year category, as will Lambert and Swift for Female Vocalist of the Year. Other nominees in the respective categories include Urban, Jason Aldean, Brice, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, and Musgraves.
The nomination is a first for Brice and genre newcomer Crow, who made her country music debut with "Feels Like Home," released in Sept. 2013. Musgraves, meanwhile, has experienced a wave of momentum of her own; having recently took home GRAMMYs for Country Album of the Year ("Same Trailer Different Park") and Song of the Year ("Merry Go Round").
Brice and Musgraves also have been named semifinalists for New Artist of the Year, in addition to Brett Eldredge, Tyler Farr, Justin Moore, Kip Moore, Thomas Rhett, and Parmalee. Fan voting over the coming weeks will help narrow down the list to just three finalists, with the winner then being decided by both fan and ACM member voting.
Many of the aforementioned artists made repeat appearances in other major categories as well including Album of the Year (Shelton, Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Musgraves, McGraw), Single Record of the Year (Florida Georgia Line, McGraw (feat. Swift and Urban), Brice, Lambert, Rucker (feat. Lady Antebellum)), Song of the Year (Gary Allan, Brice, Lambert, Shelton, Rucker (feat. Lady Antebellum)), and Video of the Year (The Band Perry, Musgraves, McGraw (feat. Swift and Urban), Brice, Lambert, Underwood).
Vocal Duo of the Year nods went to Big and Rich, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, and Thompson Square, while the nominees for Vocal Group of the Year are Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Band Perry, and Zac Brown Band.
For those interested in witnessing the Sin City spectacle in person, ACM Awards tickets are available now in the Vivid Seats marketplace for the 2014 production, as well as for the ACM Presents taping taking place April 7, also at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
While most country artists will be heading out on the road in some capacity during the year, fans also will be able to catch a great many acts in action at a host of different music festivals lined up for 2014. Among the most notable are the Houston Rodeo, San Antonio Rodeo, Austin Rodeo, iHeartRadio Country Festival, Bayou Country Superfest, Florida Country Superfest, CMA Music Festival, Country Thunder, Country Jam, and Stagecoach Country Music Festival.