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Three-time CMA Awards nominee Thomas Rhett says being up for Album of the Year is the pinnacle. 

His album “Life Changes” is up for the award, but the lyrics to the title track paint a true picture of his life. 

In it, he sings, “Notebook full of bad songs I was writing. Never dreamed anyone else would like’em.”

In the song, he progresses from college to parent to a successful artist. 

His says his fans relate to the chorus, “ain’t it funny how life changes.” But it nearly didn’t make the cut. 

“Honestly there was a point where I didn’t think life changes was going to be on the record. I kind of just thought it was a song for me, kind of just like here is 10 pages of a journal and this is the song,” Rhett explained. 

Now he’s feeling confident in the choice, with the Country Music Association backing him. 

“It continues to feel weird to get nominated because I kind of still feel like a baby act in a way,” Rhett laughs. 

Rhett is way beyond baby steps. Being recognized by the CMA is an honor he set out for when his career first began. He accomplished the goal in 2016 when he won single of the year for “Die A Happy Man.” 

“It really is such a special moment for all of your peers and your songwriting peers and your label and your publishers to see you win that award. It’s really an invigorating feeling,” he explained. 

It’s a feeling Rhett has the chance to embrace again as this year he has snagged three CMA Award nods.

“Marry Me” is up for music video, but Rhett has also landed a nom in the male vocalist category against some heavy hitters.

“To be up there in categories with people like Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley and those people, like it’s just a really humbling thought and so I’m pretty excited about it.” 

He says he is even more excited about Album of the Year.

“You put so much time and effort in making a record, not only just recording the songs and writing them, but figuring out the album art and figuring out the sequencing of the songs and how people are going to listen to them. And so much work and dedication goes into a record, and so for them to recognize that album as one of their top 5 of the year is insane to me.” 

If he wins the award it could be yet another life changer.

Rhett will also be performing the song “Life Changes” on the awards show. He says it’s a first for TV and he plans to put a different rendition on the song. 

Chris Stapleton is hoping to repeat his Album of the Year win in 2017 with another trophy this year. Last year, Stapleton took home the award for his record From a Room: Volume 1. This year, that album’s predecessor is nominated. 

From a Room: Volume 2 debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The album gets its name from the studio it was recorded in, RCA Studio A. 

Kacey Musgraves, the lone woman nominated in the category, hopes to bring home the award for Golden Hour. The record debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts. Musgraves either wrote or co-wrote all 13 songs on the album, which was nothing new for her. 

The mood of the album, however, was different. Most of her past albums have been more melancholy, but this one has several love songs on it. It’s probably because she was recent;y married when she was writing the songs. 

The album was Musgraves’ third album to debut at the No. 1 on the Country Albums chart.

Keith Urban is nominated for his album Graffiti U, his 11th studio album. 

Urban released the album’s first single, “Female,” during the CMA Awards last year. The song didn’t make it into the top 10 in the charts, but it received a lot of positive reviews. However, when his album was released, some critics called Urban out because other tracks on the album contradicted the empowering message of “Female.”

Despite the criticisms, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Country Album charts, the musician’s sixth album to do so. 

Thomas, who was newcomer just a few years ago, is nominated for his album Life Changes

And boy, did his life change a lot recently. The singer and his wife have welcomed a baby girl and adopted a little girl from Uganda since his last album was released.

The album was a huge success, too. It was the first country album to reach the top of the Billboard charts and the Country Album charts. The album’s first single, “Craving You,” which he performed with Maren Morris, also topped the Country Charts. Two more songs on the album went to No.1, and another song finished in the top five. Rhett was also nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy’s and the ACMs. 

Dierks Bentley, an artist that’s no stranger to this list, is nominated for his record The Mountain

The Mountain was inspired by the state of Colorado, and the song’s first single, “Woman Amen,” was written for Bentley’s wife. 

From a sale’s perspective, it has been Bentley’s most successful album. It also debuted in the top five of the Billboard charts and at No. 1 on the Country Albums chart. It’s Bentley’s ninth top 10 record.

There’s just one difference to the 2018 Male Vocalist of the Year nominees than last year.

Luke Combs is the lone newcomer to the fray and he brings some heavy hitting songs to the group.

Combs became popular on Facebook before he was topping the charts, and his audience followed him to the radio. His first song, “Hurricane,” finished 2017 at No. 3 on the Hot Country chart. His follow-up single, “When it Rains it Pours,” finished the year just outside the top 10.

His third single, which was his third No. 1, aptly named “One Number Away,” could land combs his first CMA award.

The rest of nominees find themselves in familiar territory.

Chris Stapleton, who is looking to win the award for the fourth straight year, is nominated again. His resume speaks for itself, and he’s nominated for four other CMA Awards this year.

That being said, Stapleton’s body of work this award season is a little bit weaker than years past. The guy deserves a break though, right?

Stapleton released volume 2 of his From a Room collection, and it was a big hit. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts. He became the first country artists to release two top 2 albums in the same year since Luke Bryan did it five years ago.

Thomas Rhett will be looking to add to his trophy case with his first Male Vocalist of the Year win.

Rhett released a new album, Life Changes, this year, and four singles off that record went No. 1 on the Country Airplay charts.

He was also named country artist of the year at the 2018 iHeart Country Music Awards, which could be a decent indicator of what could happen in November.

Keith Urban is also nominated this year. He’s won the award three other times before but has not won since 2006.

This year, Urban released Graffiti U, his eleventh studio album. The record ended up at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart and No. 2 on the Billboard all genres chart. One of the singles from that album, “Coming Home,” also went to the top of the charts.

Urban supported that album release with a huge world tour. He’s right in the middle of making 72 different stops on the tour including 63 in North America. 

Finally, Dierks Bentley is looking for his first Male Vocalist of the Year trophy. Surprisingly, it would only be his fourth CMA Award ever.

Bentley is coming off the release of his album The Mountain. The first single off that record, “Women, Amen” skyrocketed to No. 1 on the Country Airplay charts.

The album itself went to No. 1 also on the Country charts. Bentley has also played more than 25 shows this year to support his album.

No matter who wins the award in November, it’s sure to be a historic one.