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THE SIXTH IN A 10-PART SERIES
By Grammy Whisperer Paul Grein

Today, in the latest installment of our series previewing key Grammy races, our Grammy seer looks at Best Country Album.

Best Country Album
Miranda Lambert
’s Platinum, which won the CMA award for Album of the Year on Nov. 5, is also the front-runner here. The album reached #1 on both the pop and country charts and spawned the #1 country hit "Something Bad," a collabo with Carrie Underwood. Lambert’s two most recent albums, Revolution and Four the Record, were nominated in this category.

This would be the second year in a row that a female artist has walked off with this award. Kacey Musgraves won earlier this year.

Two other albums that were nominated for the big CMA prize are eligible here: Eric Church’s The Outsiders and Dierks Bentley’s Riser. Bentley has been nominated twice in this category, Church once.



Blake Shelton’s BRINGING BACK THE SUNSHINE was released too late for this year’s CMA Album of the Year balloting but will probably score here. That would put Shelton in direct competition with his Lambert. This wouldn’t be the first time that a husband and wife have competed in this category. In 1995, Trisha Yearwood vied for the award with The Mavericks, which included her husband at the time, Robert "Bobby" Reynolds. Shelton’s two most recent albums, Red River Blue and Based on a True Story…, were nominated in this category.

Two past winners of the Grammy for Best Country Album are eligible: Lady Antebellum for 747 and George Strait for The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium. Strait’s album was recorded in June at his star-studded final concert in Arlington, Tex. Strait was nominated for the CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year this year for the 19th (!) time.

Two country legends who each had a top 10 album this year are also eligible: Dolly Parton (Blue Smoke) and Willie Nelson (Band of Brothers). Neither has ever won for Best Country Album (which was re-introduced in 1994). Parton’s album was a big hit in the U.S. and an even bigger hit in the U.K.

Brantley Gilbert’s Just as I Am, which topped the country chart for four weeks, is also a contender. The album spawned the #1 country hit "Bottoms Up."

Two tribute albums to vastly different artists are eligible: Working Man’s Poet—A Tribute to Merle Haggard and Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Motley Crue.



Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town also has a chance. McGraw was nominated in this category earlier this year with Two Lanes of Freedom. Sundown Heaven Town was a #1 country album, as were all of these eligible albums: Eli Young Band’s 10,000 Towns, Kenny Chesney’s The Big Revival, Brad Paisley’s Moonshine in the Trunk, Rascal FlattsRewind, Lee Brice’s I Don’t Dance Deluxe Edition, Dan + Shay’s Where It All Began, Hunter HayesStoryline, Scotty McCreery’s See You Tonight, Jennifer NettlesThat Girl, Cassadee Pope’s Frame by Frame and Chase Rice’s Ignite the Night. (Do all of these albums have a realistic shot at a nomination? No. But they’ll all have their supporters.)

Martina McBride’s Everlasting also topped the country chart and was released within the eligibility year, so why isn’t it listed in the previous paragraph? Because it’s competing for Best Pop Vocal Album—where it stands little chance of being nominated. McBride received a CMA nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year this year. That suggests that the CMA thinks she is still more country than pop. The Grammy placement suggests that they think she is more pop than country on this album. We need a Supreme Court to make the final ruling when our leading awards shows disagree!

Johnny Cash’s Out Among the Stars also hit #1 on the country chart, but is ineligible for a Grammy nod. The tracks were recorded in the 1980s. Grammy rules stipulate that tracks have to have been recorded within five years of the album’s release.

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