To be expected, there were a few surprises yesterday with the announcement of the nominations for the Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards. But before getting to them and the major categories, a shout-out to the Canadian nominees.

High Valley is up for New Group or Duo, against LANCO and Runaway June. While I wish Brad and Curtis well and hope they win, I have a feeling LANCO will take it. The remarkable Lindsay Ell is nominated for New Female Artist, along with Danielle Bradbery, Ashley McBryde and Carly Pearce. Lindsay has a good chance at this one, considering not only her career, but also taking into account all the guest appearances she’s been making on other artists’ songs, including the current Brantley Gilbert hit, “What Happens in a Small Town.” But I wouldn’t be too surprised if Ashley or Carly win this one.

Canadians also have nominations in the Industry Awards, usually presented before the televised awards shows. Congratulations to: Boots & Hearts, nominated for Festival of the Year; Casino Rama in Orillia, Ont., for Casino of the Year (Large Capacity); and Toronto’s Budweiser Stage for Venue (Large Capacity).

Now, a look at some of the major categories:

-Jason Aldean (who’s won for the last four years), Luke Bryan (a previous winner in 2012 and 2014), Kenny Chesney (his first nomination since 2011 and another 4-time winner), Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban are nominated for Entertainer of the Year. Show host Reba McEntire commented on the lack of female representation saying, “It doesn’t make me very happy because we’ve got some very talented women out there who are out there working their butts off.” Indeed, Carrie Underwood was the last female nominee back in 2016 and Taylor Swift was last female winner way back in 2011;

-Dierks Bentley, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban have Male Artist nods. Stapleton has won three out of the past four years and Thomas Rhett won in 2016. This is Luke’s first time as a finalist in this category. Surprisingly, Jason Aldean isn’t a finalist this year. He’s been nominated every year for the last nine years, winning three times (in 2012-2014);

-Female Artist nominees include Miranda Lambert, who’s won the last ten years in-a-row, Ashley McBryde (her first nomination), and previous nominees Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves and Carrie Underwood. This may be the year Miranda’s rein ends;

-the Group category nominees are the same as last year…and the year before: Lady Antebellum, LANCO, Little Big Town, Midland and Old Dominion (with Old Dominion getting the trophy the past two years);

Notable: Chris Stapleton and Dan + Shay lead with six nominations each, while Kacey Musgraves has five; and it could be a big night for Dan + Shay – their huge hit “Tequila” is the only song nominated for Single, Song and Video of the Year.

The ACM awards will be televised on CBS on April 7 from Las Vegas.

Good luck to all the nominees!