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Chris Stapleton is the lead nominee going into ‘The 53rd Annual ACM Awards” with eight nods including Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for “From A Room: Volume 1.” He’s joined in the Entertainer of the Year category by Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks and Jason Aldean.

Once again, that top category is made up of all men, but we see a few women who could gain entry into that Entertainer slot in the next few years. Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris both earned Female Vocalist of the Year nods  after launching successful headlining tours in the past year.  They’re nominated in the Female Vocalist category along with Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire, who is returning to the show for a 15th turn as host this year.

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Reigning ACM Male Vocalist of the Year Thomas Rhett has six nominations, including another shot at that Male Vocalist of the Year category, as well as Album of the Year for “Life Changes.” We thought we might see him in that Entertainer of the Year category this year, too. Fingers crossed he makes the cut next year.

Though there are so many deserving artists nominated in those top categories, it’s still surprising to see Blake Shelton only pick up one nomination this year. He’s mentioned in the Single of the Year category for “I’ll Name the Dogs,” but it’s hard to argue that his hosting gig on “The Voice” still makes him one of country music’s most visible ambassadors. We have a feeling his fans won’t be happy to see him shut out of the Entertainer of the Year category.

RELATED: Miranda Lambert’s gutsy move at the ACM Awards is still giving us chills

A big surprise popped up in the Vocal Duo of the Year category with the inclusion of nominees Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. The couple released their duets album, “The Rest of Our Life,” last fall, and revived their “Soul2Soul Tour,” playing sold-out shows across the country. Their inclusion in the duo category could shake things up with the rest of the nominees, including reigning ACM Vocal Duo of the Year Brothers Osborne, as well as Florida Georgia Line, LOCASH and Dan + Shay.

We also have to give a shout out to Jon Pardi’s “California Sunrise,” Old Dominion’s “Happy Endings” and Little Big Town’s “The Breaker” all earning nods in the Album of the Year category along with the previously mentioned Thomas Rhett and Chris Stapleton projects.

Also, Midland makes a big showing, picking up their first ACM Awards nominations ever. They’ve got three nods, including Vocal Group of the Year, New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year and Single Record of the Year for “Drinkin’ Problem.” LANCO also picked up their first ACM Awards nominations in the New Vocal Duo or Group and Vocal Group of the Year categories.

“The 53rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards” will take place April 15 in Las Vegas and air on CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET. The show returns to its longtime home, the MGM Grand Garden Arena, after two years in other venues, including its 2016 50th anniversary celebration, which took place at AT&T Stadium near Dallas.

Here is the full list of nominees:

Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Maren Morris
Miranda Lambert
Carrie Underwood
Reba McEntire

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jason Aldean
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban
Chris Young

Vocal Group of the Year

Lady Antebellum
LANCO
Little Big Town
Midland
Old Dominion

Duo of the Year

Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
LOCASH
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

Album of the Year

“The Breaker” – Little Big Town
“California Sunrise” – Jon Pardi
“From A Room, Vol. 1” – Chris Stapleton
“Happy Endings” – Old Dominion
“Life Changes” – Thomas Rhett

Single Record of the Year

“Better Man” – Little Big Town
“Body Like a Back Road” – Sam Hunt
“Broken Halos” – Chris Stapleton
“Drinkin’ Problem” – Midland:
“I’ll Name the Dogs” – Blake Shelton

Song of the Year

“Body Like a Back Road” /  Sam Hunt – Sam Hunt, Zach Crowell, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne (writers)
“Female” / Keith Urban – Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally (writers)
“Tin Man” / Miranda Lambert – Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall (writers)
“Whiskey and You” / Chris Stapleton – Lee Thomas Miller and Chris Stapleton (writers)

New Female Vocalist of the Year

Lauren Alaina
Danielle Bradbery
Carly Pearce
RaeLynn

New Male Vocalist of the Year

Kane Brown
Luke Combs
Devin Dawson
Russell Dickerson
Brett Young

New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year

High Valley
LANCO
LOCASH
Midland
Runaway June

Video of the Year

“Black” – Dierks Bentley
“It Ain’t My Fault” – Brothers Osborne
“Legends” – Kelsea Ballerini
“Marry Me” – Thomas Rhett
“We Should Be Friends” – Miranda Lambert

Vocal Event of the Year

“Craving You” – Thomas Rhett featuring Maren Morris
“Dear Hate” – Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill
“Funny (How Time Slips Away)” – Glen Campbell and Willie Nelson
“The Fighter” – Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood
“What Ifs” – Kane Brown featuring Lauren Alaina

Songwriter of the Year

Rhett Akins
Ashley Gorley
Hillary Lindsey
Shane McAnally
Josh Osborne

Tim McGraw Faith Hill Today Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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