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Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times, Published January 26 2012

Chesney, Aldean lead country music awards nominations

LOS ANGELES – Kenny Chesney has come roaring back in terms of industry recognition with a field-dominating nine nominations for this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards.

The runner-up for most nods was Jason Aldean, who collected six, ahead of Lady Antebellum with five, Brad Paisley with four and Taylor Swift, Toby Keith, Grace Potter and the Eli Young Band with three apiece, academy officials announced Thursday.

Newer-vintage performers such as Miranda Lambert and Zac Brown scored the most nominations last year, but Chesney this year is up for entertainer of the year, male vocalist and song of the year, plus double dips under the ACM’s rules recognizing performers who also are producers, for his album “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” his hit single (with Grace Potter) “You and Tequila” and vocal event for the same song.

Chesney, Swift, Aldean and Paisley are joined by Blake Shelton vying for the ACM’s top trophy, entertainer of the year, which went to Swift last year.

Swift also is in the running again in the female vocalist category, along with repeat nominees Sara Evans, Lambert, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood, while Aldean, Chesney, Paisley, Shelton and Chris Young are up for male vocalist honors.

Album of the year contenders are Eric Church’s “Chief,” Lambert’s “Four the Record,” Chesney’s “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” and Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night.”

Song of the year nominees along with Chesney’s “You and Tequila” are the Eli Young Band’s “Crazy Girl,” Dierks Bentley’s “Home,” Lady Antebellum’s “Just a Kiss” and Vince Gill’s “Threaten Me With Heaven.”

Single of the year, which recognizes the song, the performance and production, will be chosen from among the Eli Young Band’s “Crazy Girl,” Aldean’s and Kelly Clarkson’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” Keith’s “Red Solo Cup,” Young’s “Tomorrow,” and Chesney’s and Potter’s “You and Tequila.”

Fan voting will help determine the new artist and entertainer of the year winners.

Nominations were announced by Reba McEntire and several guests during the ACM’s first digital news conference, carried on the organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Awards are to be announced during an April 1 ceremony that CBS will telecast from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. McEntire and Shelton will again share hosting duties for the show.