The CMA Nominees You Have to Know

From the well-known (Sugarland! Carrie!) to hot newcomers (Rodney Atkins!), take a look at who will battle for country glory Nov. 12. By Katie Kauss

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SUGARLAND

SUGARLAND
Frank Micelotta/Getty

Hometown: Atlanta
Nominations: Jennifer Nettles, 34, and Kristian Bush, 38, are up for six awards, including entertainer and vocal duo of the year.
This Bud's for You: The duo has a humble way to describe their rise from opening act to main-stage attraction. Says Nettles, "We've gone from being the first opener, the while-you-get-your-beer band," to, as Bush says, the "while-you-drink-your-beer band!"

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TAYLOR SWIFT

TAYLOR SWIFT
Gary Miller/FilmMagic

Hometown: Hendersonville, Tenn.
Nominations: Last year's horizon award winner (the CMA equivalent of best new artist) is up against the queens of country music for top female vocalist.
Early Bloomer: This young star, 18, told Entertainment Weekly that as a kid she went door-to-door in Nashville in search of a record deal, with the pitch, "Hi, I'm Taylor. I'm 11. I want a record deal. Call me."

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KEITH URBAN

KEITH URBAN
AdMedia

Hometown: Nashville
Nominations: The native Aussie, 41, is up for entertainer and male vocalist of the year.
Mr. Mom: Urban, the 2006 male vocalist winner, tells PEOPLE, "I'm just Mr. Mom during the day," and is looking forward to taking Sunday Rose and wife Nicole Kidman on tour next year.

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RASCAL FLATTS

RASCAL FLATTS
Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

Hometown: Nashville
Nominations: The threesome are up for top vocal group, an award they've won the past five years.
Shining Bright: They're a charitable trio – Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney donated $1.4 million to the Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and were honored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation with the "Shining Star" award for their leadership and inspiration.

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MIRANDA LAMBERT

MIRANDA LAMBERT
Mark Davis/Landov

Hometown: Lindale, Texas
Nominations: She's up for for female vocalist and single of the year.
Picking Wisely: Lambert, 24 – who has been touring with her boyfriend of three years, fellow country singer Blake Shelton, since Oct. 3 – tells PEOPLE the secret to their relationship's longevity: "We just pick on each other all the time."

06 of 13

KENNY CHESNEY

KENNY CHESNEY
Steve C. Mitchell/Corbis

Hometown: Nashville
Nominations: He's up for seven awards, including the prestigious entertainer of the year (which he won in 2007) and male vocalist of the year.
Don't Quit Your Day Job: "Deep down, I would love to play second base for the [Boston] Red Sox," the multiplatinum singer, 40 tells PEOPLE.

07 of 13

LADY ANTEBELLUM

LADY ANTEBELLUM
Rick Diamond/WireImage

Hometown: Nashville
Nominations: Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood are up for the horizon award and vocal group of the year.
MySpace Odyssey: Scott tells PEOPLE that the group formed after its members befriended each other on MySpace. "I said, 'What's your name? You look really familiar,'" Scott tells PEOPLE of meeting with Kelley in Nashville before realizing, "'I know you from MySpace!'"

08 of 13

RODNEY ATKINS

RODNEY ATKINS
Mark Humphrey/AP

Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn.
Nominations: He'll battle it out for the horizon award.
Small-Town Boy: Determined to stick to his roots, Atkins, 39 and his wife, Tammy Jo, are raising their 5-year-old son, Elijah in the country. "It makes more sense to be out on a ridge," he has said.

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LITTLE BIG TOWN

LITTLE BIG TOWN
Randi Radcliff/AdMedia

Hometown: Nashville
Nominations: Kimberly Roads Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet are up for vocal group and vocal event of the year.
Go Big or Go Home: Their single "Fine Line" is about a discussion between two people, where one has to "get in all the way, 100%, or get on out," Fairchild said.

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BRAD PAISLEY

BRAD PAISLEY
Rob Hill/FilmMagic

Hometown: Glen Dale, W.V.
Nominations: Paisley, 36, who is co-hosting the awards alongside Carrie Underwood, is nominated for four trophies, including entertainer and male vocalist of the year – which he won in 2007.
Big Daddy: Paisley and wife actress Kimberly recently announced they are expecting a second child. "We're having so much fun with our little boy Huck, and we are thrilled that he will have a sibling," he told PEOPLE.

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JAMES OTTO

JAMES OTTO
Ethan Miller/Getty

Hometown: Nashville
Nominations: The up-and-coming singer, 35, is nominated for the horizon award.
Big Man on Campus: Make that really big. On tour with fellow tall singers Trace Atkins and Alan Jackson, the 6'5" Otto tells PEOPLE that he's working with "the biggest men in country music ... 20 feet of country."

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CARRIE UNDERWOOD

CARRIE UNDERWOOD
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Hometown: Checotah, Okla.
Nominations: The American Idol alum, 25 – who is co-hosting the CMA show this year – is up for two awards, including the highly coveted female vocalist, which she won last year, and album of the year.
Veggie Tales: Although she was named the "Sexiest Vegetarian" by PETA, "I don't consider myself sexy," she tells Cosmopolitan. "And I burp a lot."

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