The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

CMA nominations: Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, Eric Church lead; Blake Shelton shut out

Maren Morris performs onstage during All For the Hall at the Bridgestone Arena on April 12, 2016, in Nashville. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for The Country Music Hall Of Fame & Museum)

Can this year’s Country Music Association Awards do for Maren Morris what last year’s awards did for Chris Stapleton?

Morris, the 26-year-old breakout artist from Texas, tied longtime singer/songwriter Stapleton and the unstoppable Eric Church for five nods each on Wednesday morning, when the CMA (which bestows the genre’s most prestigious awards) unveiled its nominations on “Good Morning America.”

Maren Morris isn’t trying to be a country music ‘savior,’ but she’s just what Nashville needs

Stapleton, as country fans know, had a career-changing night at the 2015 CMA Awards, as the industry favorite stunned everyone by beating out more mainstream acts in picking up three awards — and then performed a duet with Justin Timberlake that went viral and helped send Stapleton’s music sales soaring. While a repeat of that is a tall order, Morris has a real shot to make an impact, with her hit debut single, the soulful “My Church,” nominated for single and record of the year. The Top 10 hit is from her also-nominated album, “Hero.”

But viewers should expect big things from Stapleton again: He’s nominated for the coveted entertainer of the year prize. He goes up against Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood — who, after a decade of co-hosting the CMA Awards with Brad Paisley, was finally recognized in its biggest category for the first time.

Chris Stapleton stuns with CMAs sweep. Here are three moments that explain why it happened.

Although Church was left out of that race, he’s up for male vocalist, along with single, song and music video noms for his emotional track “Record Year.” Not to mention an album of the year nod for “Mr. Misunderstood,” which made a surprise drop just before last year’s CMA Awards and was totally overshadowed by Stapleton.

Meanwhile, stars including Underwood, Tim McGraw, Urban and Dierks Bentley weren’t far behind the nomination leaders, each picking up four nods. McGraw had a smash this year with the Lori McKenna-penned “Humble and Kind,” a quiet ballad that stood out among the many party songs on the radio and was nominated for single, song and music video.

Underwood landed an album nomination for “Storyteller,” competing against Morris, Church, Bentley (“Black“) and Urban (“Ripcord“). She’s also in the female vocalist category with Morris, six-year consecutive winner Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and Kelsea Ballerini.

That’s the lone nomination for Lambert, usually an awards-show mainstay, but she’s had a quiet music year, save for her new single that isn’t eligible for voting. And superstars including Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean — not to mention rising star Sam Hunt — were left off the ballot completely.

The CMA Awards air Wednesday, Nov. 2, on ABC.

Complete list of nominees:

Entertainer of the year
Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Chris Stapleton
Carrie Underwood
Keith Urban

Male vocalist of the year
Dierks Bentley
Eric Church
Tim McGraw
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban

Female vocalist of the year
Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Kacey Musgraves
Carrie Underwood

New artist of the year
Kelsea Ballerini
Old Dominion
Maren Morris
Brothers Osborne
Cole Swindell

Album of the year
Dierks Bentley, “Black”
Eric Church, “Mr. Misunderstood”
Maren Morris, “Hero”
Keith Urban, “Ripcord”
Carrie Underwood, “Storyteller”

Single of the year
“Record Year,” Eric Church
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“My Church,” Maren Morris
“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett
“Nobody to Blame,” Chris Stapleton

Song of the year
“Burning House,” Cam (written by Camaron Ochs, Tyler Johnson, Jeff Bhasker)
“Record Year,” Eric Church (written by Eric Church and Jeff Hyde)
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw (written by Lori McKenna)
“My Church,” Maren Morris (written by Busbee and Maren Morris)
“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett (written by Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett and Joe Spargur)

Vocal group of the year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Vocal duo of the year
Brothers Osborne
Dan + Shay
Florida Georgia Line
Joey + Rory
Maddie & Tae

Musical event of the year
“Different For Girls,” Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King
“Home Alone Tonight,” Luke Bryan feat. Karen Fairchild
“The Fighter,” Keith Urban feat. Carrie Underwood
“Think of You,” Chris Young with Cassadee Pope
“You Are My Sunshine,” Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton

Music video of the year
“Burning House,” Cam
“Fire Away,” Chris Stapleton
“Humble and Kind,” Tim McGraw
“Record Year,” Eric Church
“Somewhere on a Beach,” Dierks Bentley