Monthly Archives: October 2010

Indie Spotlight: Getting to Know Stephanie Eason

In our final segment of ATC’s inaugural Indie Spotlight, we’ll be getting to know the Stephanie Eason Band’s lead singer, Stephanie Eason, a little better by asking her a few questions. Read our interview with her to see what she has to say about performing, having an album, and about who in the band she feels is the biggest goof-ball! Also, see why she compares herself to…Hannah Montana??


Question: Who would you consider as some of your influences?
I grew up listening to Patsy Cline and The Beatles, and I quickly became a music lover.  I listened to a lot of Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain when I first started singing, so I think that they influenced me quite a bit.  Nowadays, I like to compare the Stephanie Eason Band’s sound to Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum.  We have a bit of an attitude and some awesome harmonies! Haha

Question: Why did you choose to perform country music?
It’s what I grew up listening to, and I’m from Arkansas, for crying out loud.   What other choice do I have?  Haha!  In all seriousness, I love Country music.  It’s what I identify with.  Country music has heart, and stories about real life.  I also really appreciate that on Country radio you can still hear songs about God and songs that support our country and troops.

Question: Who is your favorite artist?
Wow, what a tough question!  My favorite ARTISTS include The Beatles, Allison Krauss and Union Station, Shania Twain, Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill, John Mayer… The list goes on and on.  I couldn’t pick one if I tried!

Question: You’ve gotten the chance to open for some amazing country artists, who were you most excited to meet?
Clint Black.  He is probably the classiest performer that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  I met him at the Tim & Willy Christmas Breakfast Show at Night in 2007 at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix.  We were both performing that night and had a chance to meet backstage.  As I was singing my final song of the night, he turned and gave me “the wink and nod” to show his support and approval.  I was so excited and extremely flattered!

Question: If you could pick one artist to either open for or share the stage with, who would it be?
I’d love to share the stage with Shania Twain.  I think I have worn out her CD’s more than any other CD that I own.  I love her music and really respect her as a person.  She seems so down to Earth and is an incredibly talented performer.  It would be very surreal to share a stage with her!

Question: How does it feel to be touring and performing for large crowds every weekend?
I love it.  I truly feel like it’s what I was born to do.  I am more comfortable on stage than I am off stage.  I’m in my element under the spotlight and in front of big crowds… and off stage I’m much more reserved, I think.  You know how Hannah Montana takes off her pop star wig and goes back to being Miley Cyrus?  It’s kind of like that.  Haha, just kidding! I couldn’t resist!

Question: Where has been your favorite place to perform?
The Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix is probably my favorite venue.  It has a circular stage in the center of the theatre that slowly rotates throughout the night.  That way, the crowd can completely surround you and you can face everyone at some point in the night.  It has a very intimate feel about it, and I’ve really enjoyed playing the Christmas Breakfast Shows there with Tim & Willy every year.

Question: Do you and the band have any pre-show rituals?
Surprisingly, not really!  Does a crazed scramble for double-A batteries count?  Because we all do that before our shows…

Question: If you weren’t a performing musician, what would you be doing?
Well, I got my degree in Elementary Education from ASU, so I’d probably be teaching third grade!

Question: What’s the most embarassing thing that’s happened on stage?
One time at a show, I wore a long skirt that had an elastic waistband with some of my taller heels.  In the middle of one of our sets, I had to fix a cable that I kept stepping on, so I knelt down (very lady-like, of course!) to fix it.  What I didn’t realize was that I was standing on the bottom of my skirt with one of my heels.  Needless to say, the skirt was at my ankles when I stood back up.  All the stage lights were on me and a bar full of drunk men were staring at my de-skirted self.  Pretty embarrassing!  I won’t even leave the house without spandex shorts under all of my dresses and skirts now!  True story!

Question: What is your favorite song to perform live?
I’d have to say that I really enjoy playing “Country Time”, because it’s such a fun song to both sing and fiddle on.  It always puts me in a good mood!

Question: Speaking of “Country Time,” which is an original on The Red Letter Days, how does it feel to have your very own full-length studio album?
Like a dream come true.  I have waited so long for this, that it is still a bit unreal to me.  The process all happened so quickly once we started the project.  Our guitarist, Stan Hitson, was the final member to join the band in October 2009.  We decided immediately to get to work on writing songs for our debut album, and booked our studio time and hotels in Nashville for February 2010 so that we would be more motivated to get it done.  We spent the next couple months writing songs, and began rehearsing and arranging them in December.  On Valentine’s Day 2010, we all hopped on a plane to Nashville and spent a week on Music Row recording and mixing “The Red Letter Days”.   I feel very accomplished and extremely proud of what we have all created in our first album.  Our hearts and souls are in it.  (And plenty of sweat and blood, too!)

Question: What is your favorite song on the album?
Another tough one!  We have three very unique writers in the band, and “The Red Letter Days” definitely has a variety of styles of music on it.  I already mentioned that “Country Time” is probably my favorite to perform, but after mixing down and mastering the album, I really enjoy listening to “Charlotte to Phoenix”, “Endlessly” and “Happy Ever After”.  Those are my 3 favorites, and each one happens to be by a different writer!  Haha, what a politically correct answer!

Question: You wrote three songs on the album, what’s your favorite part about songwriting and when did you discover your songwriting skills?
Watching it grow.  As a songwriter, you get to see an idea turn into a lyric, a lyric into a melody, and a melody into a song.  It’s very exciting to work with the band I putting together an original as well.  Everyone has fresh and exciting ideas to bring to the table.  It’s such a rush playing a song you wrote for a live audience for the first time.  I love to see people dancing and singing along… How cool!   
I started writing when I was 16.   I have a whole notebook of old songs about boys I used to have crushes on and break-ups and all the drama of being a teenage girl… Yikes!  Nobody will ever see that!  Haha!

Question: Between performing every weekend and writing songs it seems like you don’t have that much spare time. But when you do have the luxury of some down time, what do you like to do?
It’s tough having a schedule that is opposite from the rest of the world.  My “weekends” are during the week, since I play every Friday and Saturday.  I try to catch up with friends and spend time with my family during my time off.  I have 2 little sisters and one little brother, and my whole family is really close.  Since our schedules are so hectic and the band travels so much, it’s not often that we all get to spend quality time together.

Question: Anyone who had seen you and the guys live would say that you all have great energy and great chemistry on stage. Was that chemistry something that came naturally or was it something that took a little bit of time?
It is absolutely something that has grown with time, but when this particular group of individuals came together, it was clearly a perfect fit.  I’ve never played in a band or known a band that has as much chemistry as we do, both on and off stage.  We’re a family, and we all love this band!

Question: How do you survive being the only girl in the group?
Actually, it’s the only way we could possibly travel.  If anyone else in the band packed as much as I do, we’d have to buy a bigger trailer!  Haha!  The other guys can pack for a whole week in a backpack… And I carry a backpack for all my hair products and styling tools.  Plus, I never have the problem of accidentally wearing the same outfit as any other band mate!  And if the guys ever do match me, we’re going to have to have a serious talk.  The mental picture is so scary… Haha!

Question: Speaking of the guys, who do you think is the biggest goof-ball of the group?
Our drummer, Brandon Kinser.  I’m sure that by now everyone has witnessed his amazing drumming dance moves behind me.  He does all sorts of weird stuff when I’m singing, especially when I’m singing ballads and serious songs.  When the audience starts laughing in the middle of those songs, I know something’s up.  Without fail, I turn around and Brandon is doing something hilarious back there.

Question: Who do you think is the most reserved member of the band?
Hmm… Mike Galli is probably the most reserved of the group.  He is also the nicest member of the band.  We’re having bracelets made that say “WWMD”.  Haha!  He seriously is the kindest person you’ll ever meet, though.

Question: Who would you say is the most organized and the least organized?
I think that Eric is probably the most organized member, because he juggles all of the booking and planning of the tours, which takes a LOT of organization.  I think we’re all very organized… and very type A.  I actually just reorganized my gig bag last week, which carries everything that anyone could possibly EVER need at a show.  Your shirt button fell off?  Have no fear!  I carry a sewing kit!  Feeling sick, or worried about Mr. Slobbery who just slimed your microphone?  I carry disinfectant and cleaning pads!  Ta-da! Yes, I am a total nerd.

Question: To wrap up our interview on a bit of a fun note, which member of the band do you think would win a karaoke contest?
I think that Stan could easily win a karaoke contest.  He has a very dynamic and expressive voice, with excellent vibrato!  I’m always blown away!

I think it’s safe to say that Stephanie Eason not only has the vocal chops to become a country music star, but she’s proven to be an extremely down-to-earth woman with one of the most infectious personalities you’ll ever encounter. Please do yourselves a favor and check out the Stephanie Eason Band’s album, The Red Letter Days, and if you’re in Arizona, make sure you check out the band in concert soon. You can find tour dates on the band’s website by clicking here

I would like to thank Stephanie Eason for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions. 

That’s it for our first Indie Spotlight! Keep on the lookout for a new Indie Spotlight artist sometime in the near future! 

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of Oct. 11 – Oct. 17

This week sees new artists taking over the top spots on both of Billboard’s country charts. Find out who the new number ones are in this week’s Chart Flash.

For the fifth week in a row a newly released album occupies to top of Billboard’s Country Albums chart. This week Darius Rucker’s sophomore country album, Charleston, SC 1966, sold over 100,700 copies to debut at number one. Making an impressive debut at number two is the debut album from the trio The Band Perry which sold just over 52,500 copies in its debut week. Falling one spot to number three is Kenny Chesney’s latest release, Hemingway’s Whiskey, while the Zac Brown Band’s You Get What You Give also falls down one spot to number four. Last week’s number one album, Bullets in the Gun by Toby Keith, plummets down to the number five spot in its second week out.

Over on the Hot Country Songs chart, Easton Corbin scores his second consecutive number one single as “Roll With It” takes over the top spot. Right on Corbin’s heels is Darius Rucker’s latest smash hit, “Come Back Song,” while Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue” leaps two spots to number three. Last week’s number one single, Josh Turner’s “All Over Me,” slides down three spots to number four while Kenny Chesney’s “Boys of Fall” rounds out the top five songs.
Surprisingly, there are no debut singles to report this week. However, this week’s greatest gainer is Craig Morgan’s latest single, “Still A Little Chicken Left on that Bone,” which jumps up four spots to number 47.
Next week, Sugarland’s newest release, The Incredible Machine, will be the new number one country album in the land and could be the new number one album on the all-genre Billboard 200. Over on the singles chart, Darius Rucker could bump Easton Corbin’s “Roll With It” out of the top spot. There should be some shakeups on charts so we’ll, of course, sort out all the changes in next week’s Chart Flash.

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Lady A and Easton Corbin lead inaugural American Country Awards Nominations

The inaugural American Country Awards announced its first ever nominations today and it’s no surprise that Lady Antebellum leads the nominations list. But, what is a surprise, is who tied Lady A with the most nominations. Find out how the nominations look as well as the suprise newcomer who scored a leading seven nominations along with Lady A.


Lady Antebellum and Easton Corbin received a leading seven nominations for the American Country Awards show. Right behind Lady A and Corbin is Carrie Underwood who received six nominations while Miranda Lambert and Josh Turner each received five nominations each.

The inaugural awards show is the newest awards show that is all fan voted and will present its first trophies on December 6 live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The ACA’s breaks up the nominations into five different categories: Artists, Albums, Singles, Touring, and Music Videos. Here are this year’s nominees…

ARTISTS

Artist of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Taylor Swift
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Zac Brown Band

Male Artist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Luke Bryan
  • Keith Urban

Female Artist of the Year

  • Carrie Underwood
  • Taylor Swift
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Reba McEntire
  • Jewel

New/Breakthrough Artist of the Year

  • Easton Corbin
  • Jerrod Niemann
  • Jaron and the Long Road to Love
  • The Band Perry
  • Danny Gokey

Duo/Group of the Year

  • Rascal Flatts
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Zac Brown Band
  • Sugarland
  • The Band Perry

ALBUMS

Album of the Year

  • Revolution – Miranda Lambert
  • Play On – Carrie Underwood
  • Doin’ My Thing – Luke Bryan
  • Haywire – Josh Turner
  • Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

SINGLES

Single of the Year

  • “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
  • “Why Don’t We Just Dance” – Josh Turner
  • “Do I” – Luke Bryan
  • “Gimme That Girl” – Joe Nichols
  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin

Single by a Male Artist

  • “Why Don’t We Just Dance” – Josh Turner
  • “Do I” – Luke Bryan
  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
  • “That’s How Country Boys Roll” – Billy Currington
  • “Gimme That Girl” – Joe Nichols

Single by a Female Artist

  • “Consider Me Gone” – Reba McEntire
  • “White Liar” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Cowboy Casanova” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Wrong Baby Wrong” – Martina McBride
  • “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” – Kellie Pickler

Single by a Group/Duo

  • “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
  • “Toes” – Zac Brown Band
  • “Little White Church” – Little Big Town
  • “Unstoppable” – Rascal Flatts
  • “Keep On Lovin’ You” – Steel Magnolia

Single by a New/Breakthrough Artist

  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
  • “Keep On Lovin’ You” – Steel Magnolia
  • “Lover, Lover” – Jerrod Niemann
  • “I Pray for You” – Jaron and the Long Road to Love
  • “Beer on the Table” – Josh Thompson

MUSIC VIDEOS

Music Video of the Year

  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
  • “Why Don’t We Just Dance” – Josh Turner
  • “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
  • “The Man I Want to Be” – Chris Young

Music Video by a Male Artist

  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
  • “Why Don’t We Just Dance” – Josh Turner
  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
  • “Southern Voice” – Tim McGraw
  • “The Man I Want to Be” – Chris Young

Music Video by a Female Artist

  • “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” – Kellie Pickler
  • “White Liar” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Consider Me Gone” – Reba McEntire
  • “Cowboy Casanova” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Work Hard, Play Harder” – Gretchen Wilson

Music Video by a Duo/Group

  • “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
  • “Highway 20 Ride” – Zac Brown Band
  • “Keep On Lovin’ You” – Steel Magnolia
  • “American Honey” – Lady Antebellum
  • “Little White Church” – Little Big Town

Music Video by a New/Breakthrough Artist

  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
  • “Keep On Lovin’ You” – Steel Magnolia
  • “Lover, Lover” – Jerrod Niemann
  • “Giddy On Up” – Laura Bell Bundy
  • “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry

TOURING

Touring Arist of the Year

  • Tim McGraw
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Brad Paisley
  • George Strait/Reba
  • Taylor Swift
  • Sugarland
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Toby Keith
  • Martina McBride/Trace Adkins

I have to say this is quite an interesting list of nominees. Jewel for Female Artist? Gretchen Wilson getting a music video nomination? Danny Gokey for New/Breakthrough artist over Steel Magnolia? Kellie Pickler getting nominations? Some of these nominees don’t make sense, to me, but it is what it is. I’m thinking Carrie Underwood’s fans will make sure she cleans up at this awards show, especially after how they feel about her snub at the CMA’s this year, but it should be interesting to see who wins the inaugural trophies.

The American Country Awards will air live from Las Vegas on December 6 on FOX.

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Billboard Chart Flash: Week of Oct. 4 – Oct. 10

As predicted, this week saw Toby Keith’s recent album, Bullets in the Gun, debut at number one on both the Country Albums chart and the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. The big news belongs to this week’s Hot Country Songs chart which sees a new number one after Kenny Chesney’s “The Boys of Fall” vacates the top spot. Who replaced Chesney atop the chart? Keep reading to find out!
Toby Keith’s Bullets in the Gun opened with a modest 70,800 copies which was enough to debut atop the Country Albums chart as well as the Billboard 200 chart. Sliding down the number two is last week’s number one album, Hemmingway’s Whiskey by Kenny Chesney, while the Zac Brown Band’s You Get What You Give also slides down a notch to number three. Coming in at number four is Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song. Rounding out the top five country albums is Billy Currington’s latest studio effort, Enjoy Yourself. It should be interesting to see how this chart looks next week with the debuts of Darius Rucker’s sophmore country album as well as the debut album from The Band Perry.

Over on the Hot Country Songs chart, Josh Turner claims his second straight number one song as “All Over Me” rises up one spot this week to the chart’s summit. Right behind Turner is Easton Corbin’s “Roll With It” which leaps up two spots to the number two spot this week. Holding steady at number three is Darius Rucker’s “Come Back Song” while last week’s number one, Kenny Chesney’s “The Boys of Fall,” slides down three spots to number four. Rounding out the top five for a second week in a row is Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue.”

Leading this week’s debut singles is the LoCash Cowboys’ “Keep In Mind” which bows in at no. 50. Following the cowboys are Troy Olsen’s “Good Hands” (no. 53), Randy Houser’s “A Man Like Me” (no. 59), and Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” (no. 60). This week’s greatest gainer is the latest from Lady Antebellum, “Hello World,” which jumps up 9 spots to the number 31 spot this week.

Next week holds a couple storylines as Darius Rucker will try to debut at number one with his sophomore album while The Band Perry hopes to have a decent first week. On the singles chart, Easton Corbin continues to “Roll” up the chart but can he land at number one or will he be held off by Turner’s “All Over Me.” Find out what happens on the charts in next week’s Chart Flash!

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Heads Up: Miranda Lambert in Las Vegas

Ever wanted to know how Miranda Lambert is live? Ever wanted to see a show in Las Vegas? Then keep reading to find out when Miranda will bring her Revolution tour to Sin City.


If you’re going to be in Las Vegas during the week of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, then you must catch Miranda Lambert in concert on December 10th. Miranda is the this year’s CMT on Tour headliner and will bring her Revolution tour to the Palms Casino Resort. Along with Lambert, you can catch openers Eric Church and Josh Kelley.

As you all are probably aware by now, Miranda just set a record for the most CMA nominations for a female artist in CMA history by receiving 9 nominations, including Entertainer of the Year. Miranda always puts on one of the most energetic shows in country music and this will be a show you don’t want to miss.

Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

If you won’t be in Vegas that week, you can also visit the CMT on Tour website for the other tour dates.

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Indie Spotlight: Album Review: The Red Letter Days, Stephanie Eason Band

In this portion of ATC’s Indie Spotlight, we’ll be reviewing the Stephanie Eason Band’s first full-length studio album, The Red Letter Days. Find out what we think about the album in our Indie Spotlight!

The album starts off with the upbeat “Charlotte to Phoenix” which finds Stephanie telling the story of a couple who wants to take a plunge and hit the open road from Charlotte to Phoenix to get away from their town. Stephanie provides a fantastic vocal performance that is never overshadowed by the production, which is filled with steel, mandolin, and guitars that keep its sound strictly country. In fact, the production throughout the record stays strictly country and that could be difficult to do in this generation of country music because some of it really isn’t country.

The album continues with the pop-country tune “It Ain’t Love” which talks about how love is all about being physical and not all about the romantic gestures like writing poems or giving someone flowers. The production features a prominent banjo line backed by the ever-present steel guitar. The band keeps with the country-pop production on songs like “How to Start a Fire” as well as one of the album’s highlights, “Holdin’ On.” The latter of which is a song about a woman who is engaged to a man that she doesn’t feel is the “one,” but instead finds her soul mate in a different guy which she’s holding on to.

One of the most interesting productions comes from the song “Endlessly” which possesses a very dark, mellow, bluesy production that’s filled with the usual Stephanie Eason Band instruments – mandolin, steel, and bass – mixed with a very subdued drum beat that sounds amazing on the ears. “He Don’t Know” also features an interesting production that incorporates traditional country sounds with a hint of bluegrass that results in a fantastic sounding record that could’ve been heard during the traditional country movement of the 1990’s.

The album’s strongest song is the ballad “My Heart Won’t Leave Me Alone.” Everything from the dark production to the outstanding emotion-filled vocal performance from Stephanie, the best on the album, results in one heck of a song. The song, of course, would be nothing without the incredible songwriting skills of Stan Hitson, who also wrote or co-wrote five other songs, who brings the story of how a person feels after a sudden break up to life with such brilliance.

Lead singer Stephanie Eason also shows off her songwriting skills on songs like “Holdin’ On” as well as the charming “Happy Ever After,” which talks about how the stories in fairytales we all grew up with never happen in real life, but we do all get our “happy ever after” in different ways. I’ve already raved about the production on “He Don’t Know,” but the songwriting by Eason is also something that should be mentioned because she does an excellent job at telling the story of a girl who’s in love with her best friend but is afraid to tell him, fearing that he won’t return her love.

The only time the group strays away from their country sounds is on the rocker “Be Careful What You Ask For” which Stephanie shares vocals with songwriter Stan Hitson in the telling of the story about a husband who gets caught cheating in a local bar. This song provides Stephanie the opportunity to show off her sassy side as she gets to play the wife who confronts the girl that is knowingly getting “lovey-dovey” with a married man. This song also provides the band the opportunity to show a different side to them and proves to listeners that they aren’t one-dimensional when it comes to their tastes in music.

From the excellent vocal performances from Eason to the outstanding production, this album is an outstanding representation of who the Stephanie Eason Band is. After listening to this record, there’s no doubt that the band is intent on sticking to their country roots and isn’t afraid to include influences from bluegrass, rock, and pop into that country sound. This album is a fantastic start from the group and I’m personally hoping they get the chance to record more music in their career.

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Talkin’ About the CMA Awards: The Nominees

With the CMA awards only a few weeks away, All Things Country will disect each and every category to offer our analysis of the nominees as well as who we feel got snubbed. Along with that, we will be offering who we think are the frontrunners in each category. So keep reading to find out what we’re saying about this year’s CMA nominees.
Let’s get started!

Entertainer of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Miranda Lambert
Brad Paisley
Keith Urban
Zac Brown Band
In an interesting twist the CMA’s threw in three first time nominees in Lady A, Lambert, and Zac Brown Band as well as veterans Paisley and Urban. For the first time since 2001, Kenny Chesney is not in the running for the night’s biggest prize. So, that means the CMA could choose to award one of the three first time nominees, or award Brad Paisley his first win in this category after six nominations, or award Keith Urban a second Entertainer trophy. Awards night could come down to two artists in the big categories and those are Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum. I’m going to look to one of them to take home this prize.

Frontrunner: Miranda Lambert or Lady Antebellum
Dark Horse: Brad Paisley
Snubbed: Carrie Underwood is the reigning 2-time ACM Entertainer of the Year and she can’t secure a nomination for the CMA Entertainer category? This should’ve been Carrie’s year to land a nomination.

Female Vocalist of the Year
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride

Reba McEntire

Taylor Swift

Carrie Underwood

Once again the same five women are nominated in this category as last year. However, this is by far Miranda Lambert’s award to lose. With a highly critically acclaimed album, two multi-nominated singles, and the ACM for Top Female Vocalist, Miranda Lambert should already be readying her acceptance speech because no one has had the success and recognition that she’s received this year.

Frontrunner: Miranda Lambert
Dark Horse: Carrie Underwood
Snubbed: No one; there aren’t any other female artists who made a big enough impact to be considered for this award

Male Vocalist of the Year
Dierks Bentley
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Keith Urban

This year’s nominees include two new nominees that weren’t included last year (Bentley and Shelton) as well as three returning nominees in Paisley, Strait, and Urban. After having one of the best years of his career, Blake Shelton secures his first nomination in this category while Dierks Bentley returns for a second time. Come awards night, look to Brad Paisley to win a fourth straight Male Vocalist trophy.

Frontrunner: Brad Paisley
Dark Horse: Blake Shelton
Snubbed: Jason Aldean has been a huge hit at radio and retail this year and had a run of 3 straight number one singles yet he was once again overlooked for a nomination in this category.

New Artist of the Year
Luke Bryan
Easton Corbin
Jerrod Niemann
Chris Young
Zac Brown Band

Once again this is a male dominated category that includes four artists who are receiving their first CMA nominations of their careers and a returning nominee who is almost guaranteed to walk away with the trophy. After having career breakthrough years, Bryan, Corbin, Niemann, and Young are all enjoying their first CMA nominations while the Zac Brown Band secured multiple nominations this year, including Entertainer of the Year.

Frontrunner: Zac Brown Band
Dark Horse: Easton Corbin
Snubbed: No other new artists have had the great year at radio and in retail than the five nominess in this category.

Vocal Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Once again the nominees in this category have all had decent success at radio and in sales. This year’s new nominee is The Band Perry who secure a nomination after having just two singles shipped to radio and without the release of a full-length studio album. The remaining four groups are all returning nominees and include the reigning Vocal Group, Lady Antebellum who are a sure lock to take home their second Vocal Group trophy.

Frontrunner: Lady Antebellum
Dark Horse: Zac Brown Band
Snubbed: Once again, no other groups have made enough of an impact to be included among these five nominees.

Vocal Duo of the Year
Brooks & Dunn
Joey + Rory
Montgomery Gentry
Steel Magnolia
Sugarland

Shocker! All five nominees are all active duos and have made an appearance on the charts in the past year. This year’s new nominees include Joey + Rory and Steel Magnolia as well as returning veterans Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, and Sugarland. With Brooks & Dunn riding into the sunset of retirement, they are considered the frontrunners for this award. However, with Sugarland returning to the charts with their new single “Stuck Like Glue,” they’ve increased their chances at pulling off an upset.

Frontrunner: Brooks & Dunn
Dark Horse: Sugarland
Snubbed: None

Single of the Year
“A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum

“The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert

“White Liar” – Miranda Lambert
This year’s single nominees all spent some time at number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with the Lady A and the Miranda Lambert singles spending several weeks in the top spot. Every year, the CMA seems to throw in a surprise nominee and this year that title belongs to “Hillbilly Bone.” It was also a surprise to see “A Little More Country Than That” receive a nomination in this category, but it was Easton Corbin’s fantastic single. It’ll come down to Miranda Lambert’s “The House that Built Me” and Lady Antebellum’s monster hit, “Need You Now.” Considering this award is based on success and sales, I’m considering “Need You Now” as the favorite.

Frontrunner: “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
Dark Horse: “The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
Snubbed: “Temporary Home” by Carrie Underwood was one of the most emotional and poignant singles of the past year and should’ve been included among the nominees.

Album of the Year
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Play On – Carrie Underwood
Revolution – Miranda Lambert
Twang – George Strait
Up on the Ridge – Dierks Bentley

This year’s Album of the Year nominees include the best selling album of 2010, the most critically acclaimed album of 2010, and three of the year’s top sellers. Before the nominations were announced, it was painfully clear that this award would come down to Lady A’s massive seller and Miranda Lambert’s masterpiece for the title, leaving the Underwood, Strait, and Bentley albums behind. The CMA’s has a rocky past when it comes to choosing a winner in this category. They either choose the biggest seller or, sometimes, they choose the best quality album. The Lady A and Lambert records fit those descriptions so it’ll be interesting to see who’ll win. However, with 9 nominations this year, I think Miranda Lambert’s Revolution is the frontrunner.

Frontrunner: Revolution – Miranda Lambert
Dark Horse: Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Snubbed: Doesn’t matter because no album besides the Lambert and Lady A albums has a chance at winning.

Song of the Year
“A Little More Country Than That” – Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress, and Wynn Varble
“Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Josh Kear
“The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin
“Toes” – Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, John Driskell Hopkins, and Shawn Mullins
“White Liar” – Natalie Hemby and Miranda Lambert

Four of this year’s Single of the Year nominees are also included in the Song of the Year category as well as the inclusion of “Toes.” As with the Single category, this will come down to “Need You Now” and “The House That Built Me” which are the two best written songs in this category (assuming voters back “House” and not “White Liar”). This award is all about the songwriting and the current frontrunner is the brilliant masterpiece, “The House That Built Me.” Look to Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin to be making an acceptance speech come awards night.

Frontrunner: “The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin
Dark Horse: “Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Josh Kear

Snubbed: “Temporary Home” should’ve been included in this category as well.

Musical Event of the Year
“Bad Angel” – Dierks Bentley featuring Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson
“Can’t You See” – Zac Brown Band featuring Kid Rock
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
“I’m Alive” – Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews
“Till the End” – Alan Jackson with Lee Ann Womack

In a category that’s filled with two singles that performed very well on the charts and three critical darlings, it’ll be interesting to see who can pull off the win. Earlier this year, it was Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins’ “Hillbilly Bone” that took home the ACM award for this category and they are the clear frontrunners to win the CMA as well. However, with Miranda Lambert receiving 9 nominations, the CMA could choose to award “Bad Angel.”

Frontrunner: Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”
Dark Horse: Dierks Bentley featuring Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson, “Bad Angel”
Snubbed: Were there any other collaborations in country music this year??

Music Video of the Year
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
“The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
“Water” – Brad Paisley
“White Liar” – Miranda Lambert

First of all, it’s a rarity for an artist to have two competing videos in this category like Miranda Lambert has this year. Lambert’s “White Liar” took home the ACM for Video of the Year earlier this year, but might not garner the same recognition from the CMA because they could go with the bittersweet “The House That Built Me.” Clearly, this award will come down between Miranda’s “House” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” In fact, the entire night could turn out to be a battle between Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum because they are nominated in each of the big categories including Entertainer of the Year.

Frontrunner: Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
Dark Horse: Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Snubbed: Carrie Underwood, “Temporary Home”

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