Kenny Chesney easily snagged 12 nominations on Tuesday to lead contenders for the annual Academy of Country Music awards, and Rodney Atkins, who has had four straight No. 1 singles, was second with six.
Atkins, 39, whose “If You’re Going Through Hell” was the most played country single of 2006, was Top Male Vocalist in last year’s academy competition.
Chesney led in total nominations, including one for Entertainer of the Year, which he had already won three times. If he wins that again he would tie Garth Brooks for academy honors in that category.
The nominations were announced in Nashville along with the announcement that, for the first time, fans will choose the winner of the “Entertainer of the Year” award. Voting will start on May 5 and the awards will be presented on May 18 in Las Vegas in a program aired on CBS Television.
Coming in third on the nominations list was Brad Paisley with four individual nominations, while the duos Big & Rich and Sugarland each won four nominations.
Miranda Lambert and 18-year-old Taylor Swift both received three nominations.
In addition to the top entertainer award, Chesney’s nominations included Top Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for ”Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates,” Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year for “Don’t Blink.”
Atkins was nominated for Top Male Vocalist, Song of the Year and Video of the Year for “Watching You” and Album of the Year for “If You’re Going Through Hell.”
Brad Paisley was nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Top Male Vocalist, Album of the Year for “5th Gear” and Video of the Year for “Online.”
Big & Rich snared nominations for Top Vocal Duo and, for the song “Lost in this Moment,” Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year. John Rich was nominated for a producer and writer award, and Big Kenny for two producing awards.
Sugarland’s four nominations were for Top Vocal Duo, and for the song “Stay,” Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year. Jennifer Nettles also received two nominations for writing and producing, and Kristian Bush received one for producing.
Besides Chesney and Paisley, other nominees for Entertainer of the Year were the duo Rascal Flatts, George Strait and Keith Urban. The nominees for female Vocalist were Lambert, Swift, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, and Carrie Underwood. Top Male Vocalist nominations went to Atkins, Chesney, Paisley, Strait and Urban.