Country Strong

 (For a complete list of 53rd GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)

What a year 2010 has been for country music. Each month saw milestones for the year's top country artists.

In January Lady Antebellum set the tone for a successful year. Following the release of their sophomore album Need You Now, the band picked up their first GRAMMY and performed the title track live on the telecast. This year the band has six nominations spanning the Country and General Fields for that single and album of the same name.

For Miranda Lambert, this year's GRAMMY nods might be her most serendipitous to date. "The House That Built Me" was intended for her fiancé Blake Shelton, but the song resonated so much with Lambert that he insisted she record it for Revolution, which is nominated this year for Best Country Album. "The House…" (written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin) garnered nods for Song Of The Year, Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. With three nominations, I do believe this could be the year when Lambert sees her first GRAMMY win.

Also competing for Best Female Country Vocal Performance are Jewel ("Satisfied"), LeAnn Rimes ("Swingin'"), five-time GRAMMY winner Carrie Underwood ("Temporary Home"), and Gretchen Wilson for "I'd Love To Be Your Last," a track from I Got Your Country Right Here, the first record released on her self-owned Redneck Records.

Fans might be surprised to discover that Jamey Johnson is not yet in possession of a GRAMMY (though he has six previous nominations), but with nominations for Best Country Album for the critically acclaimed The Guitar Song, and Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "Macon," that could easily change. Joining Johnson with nods in the latter category are Toby Keith for "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song)," David Nail ("Turning Home"), Keith Urban ("'Til Summer Comes Around"), and Chris Young ("Getting' You Home").

The nominees for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals might be the most colorful collection on this year's list. Lady Antebellum garnered a nod for "Need You Now"; along with last year's Best New Artist winners the Zac Brown Band for "Free"; the SteelDrivers for "Where Rainbows Never Die"; Dailey & Vincent for "Elizabeth"; and Little Big Town for "Little White Church."

Dierks Bentley's bluegrass album Up On The Ridge has earned him two nominations, Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for "Bad Angel" with Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson, and "Pride (In The Name Of Love)," which he recorded with Del McCoury and the Punch Brothers. Bentley also has a Best Country Album nod for Up On the Ridge. Bluegrasser Marty Stuart has two nominations in the Country Field, including Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for "I Run To You" with Connie Smith, and Darrell Scott is up for a Best Country Instrumental Performance nomination for "Willow Creek." Both Shelton and Trace Adkins could see their first GRAMMY wins for their collaborative and cheeky "Hillbilly Bone," nominated for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals.

This year's nominees showcase the expanding convergence of country music in Fields including Gospel, American Roots and Film/TV/Media, evidenced by Rosanne Cash and Willie Nelson's Best Americana Album nominations for The List and Country Music, respectively. Country music is winning over fans and standing tall next to the year's biggest pop records. Voters and fans will be inspired by music transcending own definition.

Tune in to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.
 

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