Exploring The GRAMMYs' Country Field Nominees

Go inside the nominations in the Country Field categories for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards
  • Photo: Dan MacMedan/WireImage.com
    Taylor Swift
  • Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
    Kenny Chesney
  • Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
    Carrie Underwood
  • Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
    Jason Aldean
  • Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
    The Civil Wars
  • Photo: Dan MacMedan/WireImage.com
    Blake Shelton
  • Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images
    Thompson Square
  • Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
    George Strait
  • Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage.com
    Martina McBride
February 06, 2012 -- 3:55 pm PST
GRAMMY.com

You've seen the list of nominees, now take a closer look at the artists nominated in the Country Field for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.

Veterans and established artists dominate the Country Field this year. Among the established country artists nominated, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and Eric Church celebrate their first GRAMMY nominations, as do newcomers the Civil Wars and Thompson Square. Meanwhile, veterans such as Martina McBride and Kenny Chesney are each looking for the first GRAMMY in their much-decorated careers. Among the previous GRAMMY winners who may make a return trip to the podium this year is Zac Brown, who is not nominated in the Country Field, but in the Best Song Written For Visual Media category for "Where The River Goes" from Footloose. Further proving the genre's mainstream reach, emerging sibling trio the Band Perry are nominated for the prestigious Best New Artist award.

Best Country Solo Performance

This category features three women, all of them previous GRAMMY nominees. With "I'm Going To Love You Through It," Martina McBride notches her 14th career GRAMMY nomination. Taylor Swift, nominated for her blockbuster crossover hit "Mean," is nominated for three awards this year. In 2009 she won four awards, including Album Of The Year for Fearless. Five-time GRAMMY winner Carrie Underwood is nominated for her performance of "Mama's Song" from Play On. Underwood won Best New Artist in 2006. The men in this category are both first-time GRAMMY nominees. Jason Aldean is nominated for his performance of "Dirt Road Anthem," on which he forged new ground for the genre by merging country and rap. Blake Shelton is represented via "Honey Bee," an up-tempo love song that reached No. 1 on Billboard's Country Songs chart.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

Aldean's power ballad "Don't You Wanna Stay" with two-time GRAMMY winner Kelly Clarkson that netted him a nod in this category. All of Kenny Chesney's three previous GRAMMY nominations have been collaborations: in 2004 with Jimmy Buffett, Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, and George Strait; in 2008 with Strait; and in 2009 with Mac McAnally. This year he received a nomination for his duet with Grace Potter of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals for "You And Tequila." The Civil Wars, a duo consisting of Joy Williams and John Paul White, received their first GRAMMY nomination for the haunting "Barton Hollow." The song is the title track from their debut album, which is nominated for Best Folk Album. Thompson Square, aka husband-and-wife duo Keifer and Shawna Thompson, are nominated for their first No. 1 Country Songs hit, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not."

Best Country Song

The Best Country Song award goes to the songwriters. Having written a string of hits for artists such as Aldean and Chesney, songwriting partners Jim Collins and David Lee Murphy are nominated for "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not," performed by Thompson Square. It's Collins' second career GRAMMY nomination, having been nominated in 2007 for Gretchen Wilson's "I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today," co-written with Matraca Berg, who is also nominated in this category this year. Songwriter/contemporary Christian recording artist Dave Barnes had a hit on the CCM charts with "God Gave Me You," from his 2010 solo album, What We Want, What We Get. But it's Shelton's countryfied performance of this song that brought Barnes his first-ever GRAMMY nomination. Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell and Ed Hill are nominated for the father-daughter heart-warmer "Just Fishin'," performed by Trace Adkins. Beathard was nominated in this category last year for "The Breath You Take," performed by Strait, while Criswell was last nominated in 2008 for "I Saw God Today," also performed by Strait. Swift has four GRAMMYs to her name, both as a songwriter and performer. Here she is nominated for the self-penned "Mean," her hit song that became an anti-bullying anthem. Looking for his 21st GRAMMY, Vince Gill co-wrote "Threaten Me With Heaven" with his wife, six-time GRAMMY winner Amy Grant, Dillon O'Brian and the late Will Owsley. Gill and Grant have called this nomination a tribute to their friend Owsley, a longtime guitarist in Grant's touring band who died in 2010. Both looking for their first GRAMMY, Berg and Deana Carter earned their first nominations in 1997 for "Strawberry Wine," which Berg co-wrote and Carter performed. Their partnership comes full circle with this year's nod for "You And Tequila," performed by Chesney and Potter.

Best Country Album

Male artists captured four of the six slots in this category. Aldean is nominated for My Kinda Party, which featured his nominated tracks, the genre-bending "Dirt Road Anthem" and "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Clarkson. Eric Church scored his first No. 1 album this year with Chief, which is also his first career GRAMMY nod. Shelton broke new ground with Red River Blue, his latest studio release but his first album nomination. Lady Antebellum have won six GRAMMY Awards, including Best Country Album for Need You Now in 2010. The trio is nominated this year for Own The Night, their third studio album. Swift won this category in 2009 for Fearless; she's nominated again for the follow-up, Speak Now. The 22-year-old singer/songwriter has received 12 GRAMMY nominations in her brief career. Finally, country veteran Strait's Here For A Good Time is his fourth album in a row to be nominated for Best Country Album. He won in 2008 for Troubadour.

Who will take home the awards in the Country Field categories? Tune in to the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 12, taking place at Staples Center in Los Angeles and airing live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

(Note: The videos embedded reflect official videos available through official artist and record label Web channels.)

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