Jason Aldean will always remember his first time.
That's why the Academy of Country Music Awards hold a special place in his heart.
"I won my first award ever at the ACMs," he said. "So yeah, it is special."
Aldean won the ACM's Top New Male Vocalist award in 2006.
His music caught fire with fans soon after, but it took longer for the industry to catch up. Last year, the ACMs were the first awards show to nominate him in the entertainer of the year category. The Country Music Association Awards followed suit in the fall.
Even though he lost both times, the recognition alone marked a breakthrough.
"Last year finding out we were up for entertainer of the year was obviously a big moment for me in my career," said Aldean. "To get nominated again this year, we're excited to be heading back."
Aldean has the second most ACM nominations behind Kenny Chesney, with six, including entertainer and album of the year. His No. 1 duet with Kelly Clarkson, "Don't You Wanna Stay," is up for ACM single of the year and vocal event of the year at the awards show, airing Sunday, April 1 on CBS.
He released the platinum-selling hit at the end of 2010, and over the past year and a half, he has performed it with Clarkson at the CMAs, the Grammys, on TV shows, and at the CMA Music Festival last June.
"It's crazy. It seems like that song was out forever, but it was a huge, huge song for my career, and obviously this year we got nominated for a Grammy and things like that. So it's just, that song has been amazing," said Aldean. "I can't believe it's still up for awards, but I'm glad it is."
The momentum behind Aldean's "My Kinda Party" album has been building since it was named album of the year at the CMAs in November. He's hoping for another album win on Sunday and has plans to follow it up with new material he recorded in December.
"I think anytime you win an award like that and you kind of get recognition from the industry on something like that that you've done, I think it makes you feel good, obviously, and have confidence in what you're doing," he said. "Does it change how I prepare for my next record? Not really. I think what won us that award was me going in and doing things the way I have always done them, and that's kind of the way I'm looking at our new record, too ... I can't wait for people to hear that."
Aldean also is up for male vocalist and video of the year for "Tattoos On This Town."
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