Aldean, Church, Bryan unite to kick off CMA Awards

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Swift and Aldean are nominated in the entertainer of the year category, with Kenny Chesney, Paisley and Blake Shelton. Luke Bryan and Church rewrote the script in two categories _ male vocalist where they elbowed out established stars like three-time winner Paisley and Chesney and album of the year. They join young acts Miranda Lambert and Lady A in that category with Dierks Bentley rounding it out.

The vocal group category also is stocked only with younger hitmakers _ Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, The Band Perry and Eli Young Band join industry veterans Little Big Town. And new acts The Civil Wars, Love and Theft and Thompson Square join Big & Rich and Sugarland in the vocal duo category.

Winners in two categories were announced on “Good Morning America.” Chesney and McGraw’s “Feel Like a Rock Star” won musical event of the year and Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” won video of the year.

The broadcast caps a long day of celebration that started with a televised Reba McEntire performance in front of the arena and escalated as stars like Church, Aldean and Lady A arrived.

Fans held handmade signs aimed at getting Swift’s attention. Rising star Brantley Gilbert rode up on a Harley Davidson motorcycle before greeting fans. Kellie Pickler showed up in a silver dress and ultra-short hairdo after donating her golden locks to cancer victims. Hunter Hayes and Luke Bryan received some of the loudest screams from teenage fans. And art imitated life as Hayden Panettiere and stars from the new show “Nashville” walked the carpet, drawing cheers just like the real-life performers they mimic on the hour-long drama.

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland showed off her baby bump in a black Donna Karan dress _ which she loved because “it fits a pregnant body.” Not all of her wardrobe did, however.

“Walking in heels is a bit of a challenge at this point,” she joked.

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AP writer Caitlin R. King in Nashville contributed to this report.

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Online:

http://cmaworld.com

http://abc.go.com/shows/cma-awards

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For the latest country music news from the Associated Press: http://twitter.com. Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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