April 3, 2011 / 6:00 PM / 7 years ago

Miranda Lambert eyes top honors at country awards

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Fresh from her first ever Grammy win in February, Miranda Lambert returns to the spotlight at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Country music singer Miranda Lambert poses with her Best Female Country Vocal Performance award for "The House That Built Me" backstage at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 13, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The 27-year-old Texan leads the field with seven nominations, including her first bid for the coveted entertainer of the year award, a fan-voted honor. She will also defend her title as top female vocalist.

Lambert’s nostalgic ballad “The House That Built Me,” for which she received a Grammy, will vie for single record, song and video of the year at the ACM Awards. The award for single record goes to the artist and producer, whereas the trophy for best song is given to the artist and composer.

Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band received five ACM nominations each. But they failed to make the cut for entertainer of the year, a field rounded out by Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. Swift received four nominations overall, and Urban three.

All the entertainer of the year nominees will perform during the three-hour ceremony, which gets underway at 5 p.m. PDT (8 p.m. EDT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the famed Las Vegas Strip. CBS will televise the show in the United States, and CMT Canada north of the border.

Other performers will include Carrie Underwood, who won the top award in 2009 and 2010, Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley, and both co-hosts Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton, who is also Lambert’s fiance. The Zac Brown Band will share the stage with veteran pop singer/songwriter James Taylor.

Lady Antebellum, which led the winners at last year’s ACM Awards and this year’s Grammys, picked up three ACM nominations this time.

The ACM Awards and the Grammys do not always mirror each other because of different eligibility periods. The ACMs honor works produced in 2010, while the Grammys covered a 13-month period ended September 30, 2010. Lady Antebellum’s Grammy-winning hit song “Need You Now” was the big winner at last year’s ACM Awards, while its similarly honored album of the same name is a contender for ACM honors this year.

The album field also includes Chesney’s “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” Jamey Johnson’s “The Guitar Song,” Swift’s “Speak Now,” Bentley’s “Up on the Ridge” and Zac Brown Band’s “You Get What You Give.” Lambert won the prize last year.

The race would appear to be a close one between Lady Antebellum and Swift, if sales are any indication. “Need You Now” was the second-biggest album in the United States last year, just ahead of Swift’s late-October release. The country-pop starlet also won the award in 2009.

Reporting by Dean Goodman, Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Eric Walsh

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