NASHVILLE, Tennessee Singer-songwriter Eric Church grabbed the lead in one of the biggest events in country music on Wednesday with seven nominations for the Academy of Country Music Awards while country-pop darling Taylor Swift received five nods.
Church, 35, was nominated as Male Vocalist of the Year and received his second consecutive nod for Album of the Year, this time for his widely acclaimed 2011 album "Chief", in the 48th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
He was also nominated for Single Record and Song of the Year for "Springsteen", which became his second No. 1 single last year, and for Video of the Year for "Creepin'".
Newcomer Hunter Hayes, 21, garnered six nominations, including New Male Vocalist of the Year and Video of the Year for "Wanted." Hunter is new to the country scene, having released his self-titled debut album last year.
Country music favorites Swift and Miranda Lambert, 29, whose hits include "The House That Built Me and "Over You," received five nominations each.
Swift received her fourth consecutive nomination for Entertainer of the Year. If she wins, it will be the 23-year-old singer's third consecutive claim to that title which is decided by country fans' voting.
Swift is also nominated for the sixth time for Female Vocalist of the Year and for the fourth time for Video of the Year for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."
Swift was ranked last year by Forbes as the second top-earning woman in music after bringing in an estimated $58 million from her album, endorsements and a perfume in the past year. She was beaten to top slot by Britney Spears.
Lambert's country singer husband Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will co-host the annual award ceremony in Las Vegas on April 7. Shelton has hosted the show for the past three years.
(Reporting by Vernell Hackett, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)