The music of George Strait and Taylor Swift couldn't be more different and still be called country, and yet they are two of the genre's hottest stars heading into Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards.
With six nominations, the 56-year-old Strait is tied with Brad Paisley as the leading nominee, while Swift, 19, has four.
How hot is Strait? His latest single, the jaunty "River of Love," is poised to become his 57th No. 1 country single. He won his first Grammy this year for his album "Troubadour," and he'll be honored Monday as the ACM's Artist of the Decade.
The native Texan, who first cracked the charts back in 1981, is steeped in old school honky-tonk and western swing and seldom strays from it.
And then there's Swift.
Since her debut three years ago, she's become a country and pop sensation with deeply confessional songs that appeal to teens and adults alike. Unlike Strait, she writes or co-writes most of her own material.
Both of her albums have topped the 3 million mark — a rare feat in today's music industry. She's graced the cover of Rolling Stone, performed on "Saturday Night Live" and recently sold out an upcoming date at Madison Square Garden.
Her ACM nominations include female vocalist of the year, video of the year for "Love Story" and album of the year for "Fearless."
Strait's "Troubadour" is nominated for album of the year as well. He's also up for entertainer of the year, male vocalist, song of the year for "I Saw God Today" and video of the year for "Troubadour."
Other leading nominees are former Trick Pony singer Heidi Newfield and newcomer Jamey Johnson with five each, followed by Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood with four apiece and Keith Urban with three.
Along with Strait, nominees for entertainer of the year — the night's top trophy — are Paisley, Chesney, Underwood and Urban.
If Chesney wins, it will be his fifth consecutive time and tie him with Alabama for most wins in a row for the honor. If Underwood takes it, she'd become only the seventh female act to do so, putting her alongside Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain and, most recently, the Dixie Chicks in 2000.
Hosted by McEntire, this year's show will feature appearances by all five entertainer nominees as well as Trace Adkins, Lady Antebellum, Miley Cyrus, Rascal Flatts, Johnson, Miranda Lambert, McEntire, Swift and other top names.
Among the celebrities on hand to help present awards will include Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
The show airs live from the MGM Grand on CBS.
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