CMA Awards Nominees: New Artist of the Year Breakdown

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There’s not a more confusing category at the CMA Awards than Best New Artist of the Year. Confusing in how it works, not its impact on the artist who wins. But, like every other year, this year’s class of nominees is full of accolades, promise and familiar faces.

A Country artist, who has for the first time demonstrated the most significant creative growth and development in overall chart or sales activity (of a debut or sophomore album), live performance, professionalism and/or national media recognition related to the launch of their career.

49th Annual CMA Awards Best New Artist Nominees:

Sam Hunt

  • Three straight platinum-selling No. 1 hits
  • Been on Billboard‘s Top 30 Albums chart since the beginning of 2015
  • Debut album, Montevallo, best-selling debut album since 2011
  • Owns the digital space with over 175 million streams
  • Toured all summer with Lady Antebellum

Maddie & Tae

  • Debut album Start Here debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s All-Genre Top 200 Albums
  • Debut single, “Girl in A Country Song,” went No. 1 and certified-platinum
  • Toured with Dierks Bentley all summer

Thomas Rhett

  • Nominated last year
  • Debut album It Goes Like This spawned three consecutive No. 1 hits
  • Songwriting credits for Lee Brice, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia
  • Direct support for Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes Tour and select Luke Bryan dates

Chris Stapleton 

  • Grammy-nominated songwriter
  • Debut album, Traveller, nominated for Album of the Year
  • Traveller was best-selling first week by a debut country artist in 2015
  • Five No. 1 hits as a songwriter

Kelsea Ballerini

  • Debut single, “Love Me Like You Mean It” was first debut single by a female to go No. 1 in 9 years
  • Co-writer on every track of debut album, The First Time
  • Also nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Opened for Lady Antebellum during select tour dates


Image Source: CMA, PR Photos