Miranda Lambert eyes top honors at country awards

* Lambert leads ACM Awards field with seven nominations

* Televised ceremony taking place in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, April 3 (Reuters) – Fresh from her first ever
Grammy win in February, Miranda Lambert returns to the
spotlight at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas
on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Texan leads the field with seven
nominations, including her first bid for the coveted
entertainer of the year award, a fan-voted honor. She will also
defend her title as top female vocalist.

Lambert’s nostalgic ballad “The House That Built Me,” for
which she received a Grammy, will vie for single record, song
and video of the year at the ACM Awards. The award for single
record goes to the artist and producer, whereas the trophy for
best song is given to the artist and composer.

Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band received five ACM
nominations each. But they failed to make the cut for
entertainer of the year, a field rounded out by Jason Aldean,
Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. Swift
received four nominations overall, and Urban three.

All the entertainer of the year nominees will perform
during the three-hour ceremony, which gets underway at 5 p.m.
PDT (8 p.m. EDT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the famed Las
Vegas Strip. CBS will televise the show in the United States,
and CMT Canada north of the border.

Other performers will include Carrie Underwood, who won the
top award in 2009 and 2010, Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley,
and both co-hosts Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton, who is also
Lambert’s fiance. The Zac Brown Band will share the stage with
veteran pop singer/songwriter James Taylor.

Lady Antebellum, which led the winners at last year’s ACM
Awards and this year’s Grammys, picked up three ACM nominations
this time.

The ACM Awards and the Grammys do not always mirror each
other because of different eligibility periods. The ACMs honor
works produced in 2010, while the Grammys covered a 13-month
period ended Sept. 30, 2010. Lady Antebellum’s Grammy-winning
hit song “Need You Now” was the big winner at last year’s ACM
Awards, while its similarly honored album of the same name is a
contender for ACM honors this year.

The album field also includes Chesney’s “Hemingway’s
Whiskey,” Jamey Johnson’s “The Guitar Song,” Swift’s “Speak
Now,” Bentley’s “Up on the Ridge” and Zac Brown Band’s “You Get
What You Give.” Lambert won the prize last year.

The race would appear to be a close one between Lady
Antebellum and Swift, if sales are any indication. “Need You
Now” was the second-biggest album in the United States last
year, just ahead of Swift’s late-October release. The
country-pop starlet also won the award in 2009.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman, Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and
Eric Walsh)

Miranda Lambert eyes top honors at country awards