The Academy of Country Music Awards: What You Need to Know

Before Reba McEntire hosts Sunday's telecast honoring the best in country, find out who has the edge to win big

Which country stars will bring the most heat to CBS' 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards (Sunday at 8:00 p.m. ET)? Fans all have their favorites, but there's no denying pop-country trio Lady Antebellum is on fire, and they have seven nominations to prove it (including single of the year, top vocal group and album of the year).

"I've known Hillary [Scott] since she was a little bitty girl," says 12-time ACM host Reba McEntire -- who willl do the honors once again Sunday -- of Lady Antebellum's lead singer. "Her mom [Linda Davis] and I sang a duet many years ago, 'Does He Love You?' which we won a Grammy for. So it's nice to see Hillary out." The night's performance lineup is packed with country superstars, from Rascal Flatts to Kenny Chesney to Tim McGraw.

Many presenters -- including Kristen Bell, Jamie Foxx and Matthew McConaughey -- will be calling out some other big names, like Carrie Underwood, the Zac Brown Band and Miranda Lambert (who have wracked up six nods each). And of course, there's awards-show darling Taylor Swift, who has five ACM Award nominations this time.

Fan votes decide the Entertainer of the Year award, and this year,  Swift goes up against seven contenders: Underwood, Chesney, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band. (Voting opens when the telecast begins, and will continue until the third hour of the show. Or you can get your vote in early by logging onto www.voteacm.com.)

The nominees in the major categories are:

Top Male Vocalist of the Year

Kenny Chesney 

Brad Paisley

Darius Rucker

George Strait

Keith Urban

Top Female Vocalist of the Year

Miranda Lambert

Reba McEntire      

Carrie Underwood

Taylor Swift 

Lee Ann Womack

Top Vocal Group of the Year

Lady Antebellum

Little Big Town

Randy Rogers Band

Rascal Flatts

Zac Brown Band

Album of the Year

American Saturday Night - Brad Paisley (Arista Nashville)

Lady Antebellum - Lady Antebellum (Capitol Records Nashville)

Play On - Carrie Underwood (19/Arista Nashville)

Revolution - Miranda Lambert (Columbia Nashville)

The Foundation - Zac Brown Band (Southern Ground / Bigger Picture / Atlantic)

Single Record of the Year

Need You Now - Lady Antebellum (Capitol Records Nashville)

People Are Crazy - Billy Currington (Mercury)

Red Light - David Nail (MCA Nashville)

Toes - Zac Brown Band (Southern Ground / Bigger Picture / Atlantic)

White Liar - Miranda Lambert (Columbia Nashville)

Plus:
PHOTOS: Why 2009 Was Taylor Swift's Big Year

Who is your favorite country music performer? Chime in below!

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