NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton are the leading nominees for the Academy of Country Music Awards, but only Stapleton joined the all-male ballot for the top prize of entertainer of the year.
The academy announced on Friday that Morris and Stapleton both had six nominations before the April 18 awards show, which will air on CBS from Nashville, Tennessee.
Girls were left from the top group after Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett tied for entertainer of the year this past year, the very first time for a tie and also the first time a woman had won the group since Taylor Swift at 2012.
This season, Morris' crossover pop hit"The Bones," was nominated for single of the year and got her two nominations as songwriter and artist for tune of the year. She was nominated for female artist of the year, which she won this past year, and audio of the year for"Better Than We Discovered It" She had another nomination for its all-star cooperation The Highwomen in group of the year.
Stapleton, who published his fourth solo studio album this past year,"Starting Over," was nominated twice as artist and producer for album of the year, in addition to twice for being the songwriter/artist for its title track for tune of the year.
Country celebrity Morgan Wallen, who obtained new male artist of the year last year, was declared ineligible by the ACMs after he was caught on camera using a racial slur before this season. His most recent album,"Dangerous: The Double Album," has spent six months on peak of the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, despite being eliminated from radio channels and a few streaming playlists. The record wasn't qualified for record of the year award because it came out in 2021, but Wallen likely would have been a strong competitor for male artist of the year and singles such as"7 Summers" and"Over My Hometown" would have qualified for different awards.
While girls are absent from entertainer of the year, all five nominees for the single of the year have been performed by girls, a first for the ACM Awards.
In addition to Lambert's"Bluebird" and Morris'"The Bones," Gabby Barrett's"I Hope," Carly Pearce and Lee Brice's duet"I Hope You're Happy Now" and Ingrid Andress'"Longer Hearts Than Mine" fill out the group.
Four Black artists will also be nominated this year across all types, yet another first for the ACM Awards. Kane Brown was nominated for album of the year because of his album"Mixtape Vol. 1" while Jimmie Allen was nominated for brand new male artist of the year after first being nominated in precisely the exact same group in 2018.
Mickey Guyton was nominated again for new female artist of the year, after being nominated in 2015. Her 2020 tune"Black Like Me" published after the death of George Floyd, never gained traction in radio, but brought her critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for best country solo performance.
Under ACM award standards, artists may be nominated more than once in the artist of the year categories as long as they haven't won it previously and have not yet released a single in their third studio album.
Grammy winner John Legend has his very first ACM Awards nomination for movie of this year for his duet with Carrie Underwood on"Hallelujah."
The record of the year category also includes Luke Bryan for"Born Here Live Here Die Here," Ashley McBryde for"Never Will" and Brothers Osborne for"Skeletons."