By Vernell Hackett
NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift led with five nominations each for the Country Music Association awards on Tuesday, and will compete for the genre's top prize.
Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the annual CMA Awards for the fourth time on November 9, with the show to be broadcast live on ABC from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
Keith Urban was the fifth nominee for the top prize of Entertainer of the Year announced in Nashville and New York on ABC's "Good Morning America" show.
Aldean said he was sleeping when the nominations were announced, but his wife, Jessica, made sure he got the news.
"She just about gave me a heart attack," Aldean told Reuters. "She was so excited that I was up for (top) entertainer and male vocalist."
"Once I understood what she was saying I was like, 'Okay, cool.' I didn't realize that I had been nominated for the other awards until I started getting text messages congratulating me on the five nominations," he said.
Overall, the nominations were evenly spread among established artists such as Paisley and Swift and newcomers The Band Perry and Zac Brown.
In contrast to past years when the CMA seemed to heap nominations on breakout artists a year late, this year's nods to Aldean and Shelton appeared timely.
Aldean headlined his own tour for the first time, selling out venues across the United States while performing such hits as "Dirt Road Anthem," which was nominated for Song of the Year. Shelton has been celebrating his No. 1 single, Single of the Year nominee "Honey Bee," and is co-hosting NBC's talent show "The Voice."
Aldean grabbed his first nomination for CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and will vie with Paisley, Shelton, Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney for that award.
Aldean was also nominated for Album of the Year ("My Kinda Party"), Single of the Year ("Don't You Wanna Stay," with Kelly Clarkson), and Musical Event of the Year.
"Obviously I felt like we had a great year with the success of the album and the singles and the tour," Aldean said.
"I felt like we had as good a shot as anybody, so you just hope for one or two nominations. But to get five or six, that was definitely beyond what I thought might happen, so we're pretty excited about it," he said.
Swift, Underwood, Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert, and Martina McBride were the nominees for top Female Vocalist.
Newcomers The Band Perry and Zac Brown Band each earned four nominations each, including top songwriter nods for Kimberly Perry, and for Zac Brown and Coy Bowles.
The nominees for top vocal group were The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, and Zac Brown Band, the CMA announced.
New Artist of the Year nominees were The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Thompson Square and Chris Young.
Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square, nominated with husband Keifer Thompson for Duo of the Year and New Artist awards, recalled how excited she got watching the show as a child.
"I would pretend that I had won, and I would grab a Mason (glass) jar and use it as my award," she said. "After I had proclaimed myself a winner, I would go in the kitchen and give my acceptance speech."
(Editing by Andrew Stern and Jackie Frank)