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Feb 1, 9:41 PM EST

Eric Church, Chris Stapleton lead ACM nominations



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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Eric Church and Chris Stapleton lead the nominees for the 51st annual Academy of Country Music Awards with five nominations each, including male vocalist and album of the year.

In nominations announced Monday, Church earned a first-time nod for entertainer of the year, along with Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan - co-hosting the show with Dierks Bentley - and Miranda Lambert. Church also earned nominations for video of the year for "Mr. Misunderstood," and vocal event of the year for "Raise 'Em Up" with Keith Urban.

Bryan and Blake Shelton, who got shut out of nominations this year, had been co-hosts of the show since 2013, but Bentley, who helped announce the nominees on "CBS This Morning," took Shelton's spot as co-host this year.

"It's great having a co-host that's already been there," Bentley said Monday. "He can kind of give me some pointers along the way. It's a big deal hosting one of these things. You've got to be part, you know, comedian, part entertainer, part historian, and it's a tough gig but I love challenges, and I've never done it before so it felt like the right time to do it."

Stapleton earned two nominations for album of the year category for his "Traveller," as both artist and co-producer. Chris Young, Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt are also nominated for album of the year. Stapleton, 2015's breakout country artist with four Grammy nominations, also earned nominations for new male vocalist of the year and vocal event of the year for "Hangover Tonight" with Gary Allan.

Bentley, Aldean and Brett Eldredge also are vying for male vocalist. Bentley, who also earned a nomination for video of the year for "Riser," said he thought the only reason he was invited to announce the nominees was because he was the new co-host.

"I was talking to my wife a couple days ago and I was like, 'I assume I'm just coming up there because I'm co-hosting the ACMs, that's probably why I'm up here, you know?'" Bentley said. "...Then I thought, 'Well, maybe I am nominated for male vocalist of the year? Maybe that's why they're asking me to come all the way up here to New York.'"

Lambert, who earned three nominations overall, earned her 10th consecutive nod for female vocalist of the year; she'll compete against Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini and Jana Kramer.

First-time ACM nominee Cam received four nominations, including new female vocalist and video of the year for "Burning House." The single also earned Cam a dual nomination for artist and producer in the single record of the year category.

Singer Chris Young also received four nominations, for his work as artist and co-producer on his latest album, "I'm Comin' Over," and for single record of the year for the album's title song, which

"Obviously, I did not expect to see a number four next to that," Young said. "It's the first time I have had multiple nominations and first time I have been nominated for anything as a producer. It's really, really cool."

Little Big Town earned a 10th nomination for vocal group of the year, as well as nominations for single record of the year and video of the year for "Girl Crush." As a group, they also earned a nomination for vocal event of the year for "Smokin' And Drinkin'" with Miranda Lambert, while singer Karen Fairchild received an individual nomination in the same category for "Home Alone Tonight" with Luke Bryan. Eli Young Band, Old Dominion and Rascal Flatts all earned nominations for vocal group of the year.

New singer Chris Janson earned three nominations for his work as artist and co-producer on "Buy Me a Boat," up for single record of the year, and for new male vocalist. Rhett earned his first album of the year nomination for "Tangled Up," as well as nods for his No. 1 hit, "Die a Happy Man," for single record of the year and new male vocalist of the year.

In the vocal duo category, wife and husband duo Joey + Rory earned a nomination as Joey Feek is struggling with terminal cancer. Also nominated in that category were Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line, Dan + Shay and Maddie & Tae.

Song of the year, songwriter of the year and other industry categories will be announced at a later date.

The awards air live from Las Vegas on April 3 at 8:00 PM EDT on CBS.

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Online:

Academy of Country Music Awards: www.ACMcountry.com

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AP writer Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report from New York.

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