Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves Lead CMA Nominees

Kacey Musgraves knew the Country Music Association Awards nominations were Tuesday morning, but as a newcomer saw no reason to set her alarm and get up. Then her roommate started shouting.

"I had no idea I'd make history," Musgraves said with a laugh.

Musgraves is tied with Taylor Swift as the CMA's lead nominee with six for the Nov. 6 awards in Nashville, becoming the first woman to lead the nominations in her first year as a nominee.

The 25-year-old Texas-born performer did it in a well-rounded fashion, earning nominations as a singer, songwriter and producer with album, female vocalist, new artist, single and two different song of the year entries on her ledger.

"It's really cool, I love that," Musgraves said. "All facets like that are equally important to me, especially the songwriting. To be recognized for all those things makes me feel good."

The nominations were announced in New York on "Good Morning America" and in a later news conference by Sheryl Crow and FGL.

Swift will be going for her third entertainer of the year award and was nominated for album for the multiplatinum "Red" and female vocalist of the year.

Reigning entertainer of the year Blake Shelton and his wife, Miranda Lambert, are next with five nominations each. And Keith Urban and Florida Georgia Line have four apiece.

Lambert and Shelton will be going for their fourth consecutive wins in the male vocalist and female vocalist categories and have a chance to again share a trophy, as they did last year when their song "Over You" won song of the year. In 2013, both share nominations in the musical event and video categories with Lambert's trio Pistol Annies for their collaboration on Shelton's song "Boys 'Round Here."

The CMAs have turned into something of a party recently for the couple, who have been among the show's top winners the past three years.

"It's so much fun for us each to be having individual success at the same time and we can celebrate it all together," Lambert said in an email to The Associated Press. "Last year was so special being recognized for our song 'Over You.' Also, the CMAs happen around my birthday. It's another reason to have a 'Randa-rita!"

Shelton and Swift are up for top honor entertainer of the year with Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and surprise nominee George Strait, a two-time winner in the category who's being feted by CMA voters as he retires from touring.

Swift's load of nominations isn't that surprising. While sometimes a polarizing figure because of her pop music leanings, she's gotten the full attention of CMA voters in recent years. She's now up to 21 career CMA nominations and has two entertainer of the year awards among her seven wins, tying her with Barbara Mandrell as the lead female winner of the association's top honor.

Musgraves presence atop the list is something quite different, though. Her rapid ascendance comes as something of a shock. It was a year ago to the day she released her debut single, "Merry Go 'Round" from her major label debut album, "Same Trailer Different Park."

The number of trophies she and Swift are up for signals something of an admission that the once deeply conservative format is opening up to new sounds and ideas in the 21st century.

Musgraves takes on divisive topics like homosexuality and other issues not often heard on country radio, yet still managed to generate hits because of her smart songwriting. Her songwriting nominations are for her own hit "Merry Go 'Round" and Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart."

The CMA's open-armed welcome for Musgraves wasn't the only nontraditional entry among nominations. Bob Dylan earns a nod with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show as the songwriters of "Wagon Wheel," the Dylan song sketch that Secor updated and Darius Rucker turned into a country hit. The song also is up for single of the year.

Folk duo The Civil Wars, officially on hiatus, earned a nomination for vocal duo of the year again. Pop star and recent Nashville transplant Kelly Clarkson returns as female vocalist nominee. And rapper Nelly is up for musical event and single of the year on his "Cruise" mashup with Florida Georgia Line, the song that keeps on giving for Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley. They're also up for vocal duo and new artist.

"You dream about just being there, and to be nominated four times is definitely a dream come true, so we're just very honored, very humbled," Kelley said. "Win or lose, we're going to celebrate. It's just going to be a great night."

It should also be noted Swift and Urban wouldn't be among lead nominees without a little help from Tim McGraw. Each got three nominations apiece for their collaboration on McGraw's "Highway Don't Care" — single, musical event and video of the year.

Carrie Underwood, McGraw, Aldean, Bryan and Little Big Town are up for three awards apiece. In another sign he's arrived, Bryan was nominated for entertainer of the year for the first time, five months after winning the same award from the rival Academy of Country Music.

Underwood's "Blown Away," Shelton's "Based on a True Story" and Little Big Town's "Tornado" are up for album of the year with Swift's "Red" and Musgraves' "Same Trailer."

Should Little Big Town win, it would give producer Jay Joyce a win in that category two years in a row. He took home a trophy when Eric Church's "Chief" won album of the year in 2012, and his work couldn't have been more different on LBT's harmony-laden "Tornado."

"As I producer I've always considered myself pretty versatile, but I've never worked toward that or thought about it," Joyce said. "... People always want to pigeon hole you and put you in the box, and as a producer I think that can work against me having fun and having free reign with creativity."

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Associated Press writer Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report from New York.

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Online:

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