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Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum Take Early CMA Lead

Miranda Lambert photo courtesy of Sony Music Nashville. Lady Antebellum photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville.

Miranda Lambert photo courtesy of Sony Music Nashville. Lady Antebellum photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville.

In a day of firsts, the Country Music Association began a two-day unveiling of the nominations for its 44th annual awards Tuesday, leaving Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band in an unprecedented overnight drama as they wait to see if they can maintain the lead positions in the list of finalists.

Miranda’s “The House That Built Me” and “White Liar” each ended up as finalists in both Single and Music Video of the Year, accounting for four of her five first-day nominations. Additionally, both titles are up for Song of the Year, though Miranda received only one nomination in that category; she was a co-writer on “White Liar” but did not compose “The House That Built Me,” which brought Song of the Year nods to songwriters Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin.

Lady A rode “Need You Now” to four nominations, and Zac Brown Band came through with three as Chris Young, Steel Magnolia and Justin Moore read the entries in seven of the CMA’s 12 categories at the Ryman Auditorium. It marked the first time in history that that historic venue has hosted a CMA nominee ceremony, appropriate since it was the venue when the awards were televised for the first time in 1968.

By turning the nominations announcement into a two-day event, the CMA increases the number of stories that media are likely to devote to the process, stretching public attention to the awards over a longer period of time. Finalists were acknowledged Tuesday for New Artist, Single, Song, Music Video, Vocal Duo, Vocal Group and Musician of the Year.

Still to come during Wednesday’s ABC telecast of “Good Morning America” are the nominees for the five remaining categories: Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist, Vocal Event and Album of the Year. Miranda and Dierks Bentley are set to read the results in those fields from New York at 8:30 a.m. ET.

“It’s a huge honor to have your peers in the music industry [recognize you] — it makes you feel like you’re gaining some ground,” said Meghan Linsey of Steel Magnolia, which swiped a nod for Vocal Duo. “We’ve been workin’ really hard the last year and been out on tour and haven’t really had a chance to look up and see what’s goin’ on. So to have a nomination, I think it’s always nice to be noticed by your peers.”

Chris Young was certainly noticed by fellow nominee-reader Justin Moore, who complimented Chris for his “stunning” silver jacket. After Chris picked up a New Artist nomination, Justin was the first to give the selection a thumbs-up.

“This guy’s an incredible singer,” Justin said, “but he’s even a better person.”

Chris quickly reached in his pocket and handed Justin a little cash for the positive p.r.

“I think I gave him 40 bucks and a receipt,” Chris said later. “I love that guy, and it was so cool to have him be so cool with what he said about me. Just an amazing guy, an amazing singer, and we’ve known each other entirely too long at this point, so we always goof off with each other every time we see each other.”

Justin did, by the way, give Chris the $40 back later.

Blake Shelton, Trace Adkins and Easton Corbin were all double nominees. Blake and Trace earned Single and Music Video recognition for “Hillbilly Bone.” They’re likely to pick up a third nomination apiece on Wednesday, since “Bone” is a probable finalist for Vocal Event.

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the 44th annual CMA Awards on ABC Nov. 10 from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Click here for the list (thus far) of the 2010 CMA Awards Nominees.

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