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Country Music Association embraces edgier young acts

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Kacey Musgraves has six CMAA nominations.

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Kacey Musgraves has six CMAA nominations.

NASHVILLE -- With six nominations each, Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves are the top nominees for the Country Music Association Awards, signalling something of a left turn for the traditional organization.

Swift will be going for her third Entertainer of the Year Award and was also nominated for album and female vocalist of the year for the Nov. 6 awards in Nashville. Newcomer Musgraves also is up for awards in the album and female vocalist categories.

The nominations were announced Tuesday morning in New York on Good Morning America.

Reigning entertainer of the year Blake Shelton and his wife, Miranda Lambert, are next with five nominations each. 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 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. "Also, the CMAs happen around my birthday. It's another reason to have a 'Randa-rita!"

Shelton and Swift are up for 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.

While sometimes a polarizing figure because of her pop leanings, Swift has had 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 honour.

Musgraves' rapid ascendance, though, comes as something of a shock. This is the first year the talented, left-of-centre newcomer has been nominated, and 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.

The 25-year-old Texas-born singer-songwriter takes on divisive topics like homosexuality on her critically acclaimed album Same Trailer Different Park and other issues not often heard on country radio, yet still managed to generate hits because of her smart songwriting.

She's also nominated in the New Artist of the Year category, and as a songwriter on her own hit Merry Go 'Round and Miranda Lambert's Mama's Broken Heart.

The CMA's open-armed welcome for Musgraves wasn't the only non-traditional 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. 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 honoured, very humbled," Kelley said. "Win or lose, we're going to celebrate. It's just going to be a great night."

For a complete list of nominees, go to www.cmaworld.com.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 C3

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