By KRISTIN M. HALL
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Eric Church and Chris Stapleton lead the early nominees for the 51st annual Academy of Country Music Awards with three nominations each, including male vocalist and album of the year.
ACM Awards co-host Dierks Bentley announced the nominees Monday for six categories including entertainer of the year, male vocalist of the year, female vocalist of the year, vocal duo of the year, vocal group of the year and album of the year on "CBS This Morning."
Church was nominated for the first time in the entertainer of the year category, along with Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan - co-hosting the show with Bentley - and Miranda Lambert. Stapleton earned two nominations in the album of the year category for his album "Traveller," as both artist and co-producer. Chris Young, Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt are also nominated in the album of the year category. More categories will be announced later on Monday.
Bentley is also nominated for male vocalist, along with Aldean and Brett Eldredge. Lambert earned her 10th consecutive nod for the female vocalist of the year category, which also includes Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini and Jana Kramer.
In the vocal duo category, wife and husband duo Joey + Rory earned a nomination as Joey Feek is struggling with terminal cancer. Also nominated in that category were Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line, Dan + Shay and Maddie & Tae. Eli Young Band, Little Big Town, Old Dominion and Rascal Flatts all earned nominations for vocal group of the year.
The awards air live from Las Vegas on April 3 at 8:00 PM EDT on CBS.
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