CMA Awards 2021: Red carpet arrivals

Chris Stapleton and Eric Church are the top nominees, Luke Combs could be in for a big night, and all three will take the stage to perform Wednesday at the CMA Awards.

Stapleton and Church will be going toe-to-toe all night at the ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee, with nominations in the same five categories, including entertainer of the year, male vocalist of the year, and album of the year.

The 55th annual CMA Awards, telecast on ABC and hosted by Luke Bryan, will represent a return to normal for the show. It’s back in front of an audience at its usual home, Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, after last year’s ceremony was held at a crowd-free Music City Center because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In awards announced before the show Wednesday, “half of my hometown” by Kelsea Ballerini featuring Kenny Chesney won musical event of the year and music video of the year.

Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, the most nominated female artist in CMAs history, are also both up for entertainer of the year. Either would be the first woman to win the award since Taylor Swift in 2011.

In a year when the major categories are dominated by male nominees, Gabby Barrett is the night’s most nominated woman with four nods, including female artist of the year, new artist and single and song of the year for her hit “The Good Ones.”

Underwood and Jason Aldean will headline a series of all-star collaborations as they perform their current hit “If I Didn’t Love You.” Kane Brown and Chris Young will sing their duet “Famous Friends,” which is nominated in three categories.

Other performers include the Brothers Osborne, Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde, and Mickey Guyton with Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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