Miranda Lambert is conflicted about her entertainer of the year nomination at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards.
Some of the nominated singers in the category sell out stadiums and are among the most popular artists inmusic, regardless of genre. She's just starting down that path and doesn't feel like she's reached that level.
At the same time, she can't deny the jump she's made since she stormed the ACMs last year and took home a leading three awards, including the coveted album of the year for "Revolution." That album is still spawning hits and helped her to seven nominations for Sunday's awards show, which will air live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on CBS. Her fiance, Blake Shelton, is co-hosting the ceremony with Reba McEntire.
"I feel like maybe I'm just being humble and I don't know that I should take it home yet because I know Brad Paisley's doing stadiums now," Lambert said. "I'm not there yet. But it is up to the fans, so if I did win that'd be awesome. I know I have tons of work under my belt now, but I still have more to go."
Fan voting makes this year's entertainer award especially hard to predict. Neither Carrie Underwood nor Kenny Chesney — winners of the last six entertainer awards — are nominated this year. And only two-time winner Toby Keith has taken home the ACM's top award. Paisley, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban have won the competing Country Music Association artist of the year awards, but have yet to breakthrough in Sin City. Jason Aldean, like Lambert a rising star, also is a first-time nominee.
Aldean has been one of country's hottest young stars for a few years; he's also up for male vocalist of the year and will perform as well.
"You get nominated for something like that, it makes you feel like, 'Wow, people are noticing what's going on, man.' It's a cool feeling," Aldean said. "Going from really not having any nominations (last year) to going to this year where we're nominated for the two best awards a male act can get, it's definitely a new feeling for me."
While four-time entertainer of the year winner Chesney isn't nominated in that category after taking a year off from touring, he will have a large presence at the awards with five nominations. He's vying for his first album of the year award for "Hemingway's Whiskey" and he's also up for male vocalist. Lady Antebellum, which took five Grammy awards earlier this year, is up for three ACMs.
Zac Brown of the Zac Brown band is actually the night's leading nominee, though his nine nominations are split between his band and his work as a producer and a composer, so he doesn't have as many individual nominations as Lambert.
He said he won't really be focused on the awards, though. He'll be performing with James Taylor.
"Of all the milestone people I've gotten to work with who've been an influence on my life musically, he's definitely the biggest one," Brown said. "So I wanted to do a song with him and I think a lot of people know James Taylor, but I don't think he gets asked to do these kinds of things very often or if he even entertains the opportunity to be able do it. That he's coming to do that, it's a huge honor for me. It's going to be a big night and a career milestone."