By Vernell Hackett
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Singer Eric Church, whose career has rocketed over the past year, swept the 46th annual Country Music Association nominations on Wednesday with five nods, including one for best album for his hit, "Chief."
Church, 35, also scored nominations for best male vocalist along with best song, single and video for "Springsteen," which tells the story of a couple who met at a Bruce Springsteen concert.
Country music couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton each drew four nods, sharing one for song of the year for "Over You." They are also up for female and male vocalist.
Shelton will compete in the male vocalist category against Church, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban.
The female vocalist category pits Lambert against Kelly Clarkson, Martina McBride, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.
Jason Aldean, singers Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and the group Little Big Town each earned three nominations.
The CMA nominees included several crossovers from other genres, including pop star Clarkson and rapper Snoop Dogg, who was nominated for musical event of the year, an award for a collaboration by artists who don't normally perform together.
Snoop Dogg was nominated for "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," which he recorded with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson.
It was a return to the country scene for both Clarkson and Dogg. Clarkson previously recorded "Because of You" with Reba McEntire, and Dogg recorded "Kentucky Jelly" with Brad Paisley and remixes on the album "Johnny Cash Remixed."
Another crossover pop star, Lionel Richie, and country star Darius Rucker, were nominated for musical event for "Stuck On You."
Paisley and Underwood will host the CMA Awards for the fifth straight year on November 1, to be broadcast on ABC television from Nashville.
Singer Lee Brice, who recently scored a hit with "A Woman Like You," was nominated for best new artist, vying against singers Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes and country music duos Love and Theft and Thompson Square.
"I'm so grateful for the nomination," Brice told Reuters. "I'll try not to be too nervous but I'm sure when the day comes I'll be biting my nails off."
Little Big Town, whose song "Pontoon" has been a mega-hit this summer, was nominated for vocal group of the year as well as best music video and single.
"We grew up watching the awards and I can so visualize my living room, me watching that show as a kid with my popcorn," Karen Fairchild, one of the band's singers, told Reuters.
"That we get to stand up on that stage, it's such an honor," she said.
Little Big Town competes against the Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry and the Zac Brown Band for best vocal group.
(Editing by Sue Zeidler)
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