5 Artists in Line to Win the 2023 CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year

Country music will be coming out for the 2023 CMA Awards on Wednesday (November 8). Held at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, and hosted for a second time by Luke Bryan and NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, the 2023 CMAs will air live at 8/7CT on ABC and stream on Hulu and the ABC app.

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This year, several country artists are leading the pack with the most nominations. For the second year in a row, Lainey Wilson has topped the list with nine nominations, including the top honor of Entertainer of the Year.

[RELATED: American Songwriter Predicts CMA Award Winners]

As the hours count down to the awards ceremony, and each winner is revealed, American Songwriter is taking a look at the past year of milestones for the five 2023 CMA Entertainer of the Year nominees.

2023 CMA Entertainer of the Year Nominees

1. Luke Combs

Luke Combs‘ cover of Tracy Chapman’s 1988 hit ‘Fast Car” has only given more attention to the country singer and songwriter’s 2023 album Gettin’ Old. The album went to No. 2 on the Billboard country chart and No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and also picked up a CMA Album of the Year nomination.

Along with his Gettin’ Old hit “Love You Anyway,” the resurgence of “Fast Car” with Combs’ rendition has made it a groundbreaking year for the artist. When originally released, the song originally went to No. 6 for Chapman on the Billboard Hot 100. Combs took the song to No. 1 again, 35 years later, topping the country charts and going to No. 2 on the Hot 100.

Though Lainey Wilson is the top runner for Entertainer of the Year, Combs also picked up a CMA Song of the Year nod for “Fast Car,” which may give him a slight advantage in walking away with the top honor.

2. Chris Stapleton

The forthcoming release of Chris Stapleton‘s fifth album Higher, out November 10, is already taking the country star to new heights. Single “White Horse” has already had some steady traction, hitting No. 7 on the country chart.

Though Stapleton has already won 14 CMAs throughout his career, Entertainer of the Year may be another he adds on in 2023. Stapleton has been nominated for a CMA Entertainer of the Year award six times—in 2015 and again in 2017, 2018, and 2019 then again in 2021 and 2022—but has never received the coveted honor.

3. Carrie Underwood

Whenever Carrie Underwood hits the stage, she knocks out any performance, whether guesting with Guns N’ Roses or her more recent moving cover of George Michael‘s 1987 hit “One More Try” at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Fans caught the fuller scope of her state productions during her 2023 Denim & Rhinestones Tour, in support of her 2022 hit album of the same name, which went to No. 2 on the country chart and No. 10 on the Billboard 200.

In September 2023, Underwood kept shining with Denim & Rhinestones with a deluxe edition of the album, featuring six new songs, including “Out of That Truck,” “Take Me Out” and “Give Her That.” Along with the success of Denim & Rhinestones and the tour, Underwood’s stellar year of entertaining has culminated with an extension of her Las Vegas residency running through August of 2024.

4. Morgan Wallen

It’s been one long, successful run for Morgan Wallen since the release of his double album One Thing at a Time in 2022. Topping the country charts, Wallen’s single “Last Night” also hit No. 1 and kept Wallen on a greater trajectory throughout the past year.

Written by Ashley Gorley, John Byron, Ryan Vojtesak, and Jacob Kasher Hindlin, “Last Night” was also Wallen’s first single to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

5. Lainey Wilson

Straight from the lead single from her blockbuster 2022 album Bell Bottom Country, “Heart Like a Truck,” to her collaborations with Jelly Roll (“Save Me”) and “wait in the truck” with HARDY, and more Lainey Wilson has undoubtedly become one of the leading women in country throughout the past year.

Along with her nine CMA nominations, and her track record of previous wins, Wilson may just pick up Entertainer of the Year in 2023.

Photo: Luke Combs (Terry Wyatt/WireImage); Lainey Wilson (Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

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