NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country star Miranda Lambert turns her “Wildcard” into an ace as she’s the leading nominee at the 2020 Country Music Association Awards, including her first entertainer of the year nomination in five years.
The CMAs announced Tuesday that Lambert earned seven nominations. The Grammy winner was pushed by the success of songs like “Bluebird,” her first country airplay No. 1 in years, as well as positive reviews of her smart and sassy “Wildcard” album. Lambert — who has won 13 CMAs throughout her career — makes history this year, breaking the record for most nominations by a female artist with 55 overall nods.
She’s followed by Luke Combs, who continues his streak of success as one of country music’s biggest streaming artists with six nominations, including his first for entertainer of the year. Combs earned his first all-genre No. 1 album last year with “What You See Is What You Get,” which had the largest streaming week ever for a country album with 74 million on-demand streams.
“It’s pretty crazy. It’s been shocking to say the least,” Combs said of his entertainer of the year nod, which comes two years after he was named new artist of the year. “You’re kind of up in the big leagues.”
Carrie Underwood joins Combs and Lambert in the entertainer of the year category, along with Keith Urban and Eric Church. Garth Brooks, who won last year, recently announced he no longer wanted to be nominated for entertainer of the year because it was time for others to win.
Combs’ nominations include album, single and male vocalist of the year. He’s nominated twice in the song of the year category for his own track, “Even Though I’m Leaving,” and for co-writing the Carly Pearce-Lee Brice duet “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”
“It’s a dream come true for somebody that writes their own stuff,” said Combs. “Having won that award last year was just really really really special.”
The CMA Awards will be held Nov. 11 in Nashville.
Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers has six nominations, including four he shares with bandmate Shay Mooney and three with pop star Justin Bieber for their crossover hit “10,000 Hours.” Smyers earned individual nominations for his work as a producer on the song. These are the first CMA nominations for Bieber, who won a CMT Music Award in 2011 for “That Should Be Me” with Rascal Flatts.
Other top nominees include Maren Morris, who scored five nominations including song and single of the year for her love song, “The Bones.” Her track became the longest-running No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot country songs chart by a solo female artist since Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together.”
Producer Jay Joyce also earned five nominations for his work on albums by Lambert and Ashley McBryde, who earned three nominations including album of the year and female vocalist of the year.
After years of criticism for the lack of women on country radio, women actually outnumber men in the new artist category, which include Pearce, Gabby Barrett and Ingrid Andress. Pearce earned three more nominations for “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” and her producer busbee, who died last year after a fight with cancer, is posthumously nominated for musical event of the year.
“September marks a year that he’s been gone,” said Pearce. “I know that he is so proud looking down at how far I’ve come and this was the last song that he worked on before he got sick, so it would be huge to take it home for him.”
Barrett, who competed on “American Idol,” earned a nomination for single of the year with “I Hope,” a No. 1 country hit and Top 10 success on the pop charts. And Andress was nominated for song of the year with “More Hearts Than Mine.” Morgan Wallen and Jimmie Allen round out the new artist nominees.
Notable snubs missing from the nomination list include country icon Tanya Tucker, who earned her first two Grammy Awards this year for her comeback album “While I’m Livin.'” The Chicks, who returned with their first new album in 14 years, also weren’t nominated, likely due to a longstanding rift between country fans and the outspoken female group. Sam Hunt, who put out a long-awaited album this year, was also missing from the nominations.
The coronavirus pandemic likely affected some of the nominations this year because touring was postponed and some albums were pushed back. Luke Bryan, who delayed his album until after the cutoff deadline for this year’s awards show, was not nominated.