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Country Music Awards Take Manhattan

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Laura Farr/ZUMA

Nashville’s gone to New York – and taken all the biggest country music stars with it, including Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, and more.

Tuesday night’s 39th annual Country Music Association awards show marks the first time the ceremony is being held in Manhattan – at Madison Square Garden.

The night’s top nominees are Lee Ann Womack and Brad Paisley, who have six nods each. Other big names grabbing attention are Chesney, who opens the night’s festivities, Brooks & Dunn who host the gala and Willie Nelson who presents the song of the year award.

As one of the night’s top nominees, Womack is in the running for album of the year with There’s More Where That Came From, while her bittersweet “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” is up for single and music video of the year, as well as song of the year. She’s also among the nominees for female vocalist of the year and scored two nods in the category of musical event of the year for her separate duets with George Strait and Willie Nelson.

“I thought it would be nice if I got one or two,” Womack told the Associated Press after the nominations were announced. “Everything after that was just icing on the cake.”

As for having the ceremony in New York, Womack said the move “shakes things up a little bit.”

Paisley’s nominations include those for single, song and music video of the year for “Alcohol,” which he wrote, and as entertainer of the year – where the other nominees are Keith Urban, Chesney, Toby Keith and Alan Jackson. Paisley’s other nods are for male vocalist and musical event of the year (his duet with Sara Evans, “New Again”).

Urban has four nominations, including album of the year for Be Here, and music video of the year. Gretchen Wilson (“Redneck Woman”) is up for three, including those as female vocalist and music video of the year for “When I Think About Cheatin’.”

Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich, Miranda Lambert, Julie Roberts and Sugarland are in the running for the Horizon Award, to honor rising artists.

This year’s show also brings out a host of varied performers, including American Idol star Carrie Underwood who is making the network debut of her tune “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” Bon Jovi, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, as well as Parton and Elton John singing a duet.

As for moving the highly rated show out of Tennessee to the big city – last year, more than 37 million viewers tuned in – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Newsday that it had to do with approaching the CMA personally.

“We fly around the world all the time, asking, cajoling, making presentations,” Bloomberg said. “It is a process of ringing doorbells again and again and again.”

Obviously, Nashville answered the door.

Brad Paisley and Lee Ann Womack.