Grammys 2017: A Closer Look at Country Nominations

John Shearer/Getty Images for ACM
Maren Morris photographed on April 2, 2016 in Las Vegas.

It was a great day for Nashville-related acts Tuesday (Dec. 6), as the nominees for the 2017 Grammy Awards were revealed, with country making a strong showing.

While there might have been a few surprises, the dominance of Maren Morris was not among them. The Texan hit the industry in a big way in 2016, and continued to pick up steam throughout the year.

In addition to her nominations for Best Country Solo Performance, Best County Song (“My Church”) and for Best Album (HERO), she also found herself in the running for the overall Best New Artist prize. But, she wasn’t alone in that distinction, as Black River’s Kelsea Ballerini also finds herself represented in the field. Sturgill Simpson also had a huge day, with a nomination in the Country Album field, as well as the overall Album of the Year category alongside the likes of Adele, Beyonce, Drake and Justin Bieber. A look at the nominations reflect a nice mix of trend-setters current and legendary:

Best Country Solo Performance: “Love Can Go To Hell,” Brandy Clark; “Vice,” Miranda Lambert; “My Church,” Maren Morris; “Church Bells,” Carrie Underwood; “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Keith Urban.

In a year that saw the resurgence of the female vocalist in Country Music, it should come as no surprise that four of the five nominees in this category are women. Clark, Lambert and Morris have all been huge critical favorites this year, and their inclusion here should stun no one.

Best Country Duo / Group Performance: “Different For Girls,” Dierks Bentley and Elle King; “21 Summer,” Brothers Osborne; “Setting The World On Fire,” Kenny Chesney and Pink; “Jolene,” Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton; “Think Of You,” Chris Young and Cassadee Pope.

A nice mix of the past and the present, with three collaborations that crossed genres, one of the format’s rising musical duos, and two of the format’s top young talents in Young and Pope.

Best Country Song: “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey and Steven Lee Olsen; “Die A Happy Man,” Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett and Joe Spargur; “Humble and Kind,” Lori McKenna; “My Church,” Maren Morris and busbee; “Vice,” Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne.

A very competitive field that should come down to the biggest love song of the year (“Die A Happy Man”) and the winner of the CMA prize (“Humble and Kind”). My early money is on the McGraw hit.

Best Country Album: Big Day In A Small Town, Brandy Clark; Full Circle, Loretta Lynn; HERO, Maren Morris; A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, Sturgill Simpson; Ripcord, Keith Urban.

One of the most musically diverse slate of nominees in this category in quite some time – two of the most critically acclaimed acts in Morris and Clark, an Americana darling in Simpson, one of the most genre-bending albums of the year in Urban, and the first album in more than a decade from the 84-year old Lynn – proving that quality need not have an expiration date.

2017 Grammys


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