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“We’ve been pouring our heart and soul into our music, our albums and our live show for as long as we can remember, so it’s an honor to be recognized for all our hard work,” Brown said in an e-mail to the AP. “We have a lot to live up to in the coming year _ and it’s a challenge we’re ready to take on!”

Swift and The Band Perry received four nominations each. Swift is up for top female vocalist with Lambert, Underwood, Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack.

Paisley, fresh off his artist of the year win at the CMA awards, is up for his fifth straight top male vocalist ACM. Aldean, Shelton, George Strait and Keith Urban also are nominated in the category.

Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Randy Rogers Band and The Band Perry join Zac Brown Band in the top vocal group category and Sugarland, the JaneDear girls, Joey + Rory, Montgomery Gentry and Steel Magnolia are up for top vocal duo.

Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Jamey Johnson’s “The Guitar Song,” Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” and Dierks Bentley’s “Up on the Ridge” round out the album of the year category.

Lambert rode a groundswell of enthusiasm for “Revolution” and its fiery first single, “White Liar,” to her success in Vegas last year. This year it’s “The House That Built Me,” the poignant ballad about tough times that closely mirrored her own personal story growing up in Texas.

The two songs show Lambert’s versatility and Dunn, for one, thinks Lambert can expect a long career filled with nominations.

“She has that sass,” Dunn said. “It’s authentic. It’s not manipulated. That’s important. If you can come along and back that up with musical talent, you got it made.”

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Online:

http://www.acmcountry.com