Maren Morris and Thomas Rhett lead 2020 ACM Awards nominees

Maren Morris

Maren Morris and Thomas Rhett lead the nominees for the 2020 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards with five nominations each, combining their appearances and production credits.

Maren earned her five nominations across four categories, including Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for GIRL, Music Event of the Year for her involvement on Miranda Lambert's Fooled Around And Fell In Love, and Group of the Year for her work with The Highwomen.

Meanwhile, Thomas was also nominated in four categories, including Entertainer of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Center Point Road, and Video of the Year for Remember You Young.

Maren will face off against Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda, Kacey Musgraves, and Carrie Underwood for Female Artist of the Year, while Thomas has competition from Dierks Bentley, Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban for Male Artist of the Year.

Elsewhere on the shortlist, popstar Justin Bieber also bagged an impressive four nominations for his Dan + Shay collaboration 10,000 Hours, tying with country stars Old Dominion and Blake Shelton.

Rapper Lil Nas X was also nominated for his crossover hit, Old Town Road, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, for Music Event of the Year.

Women are represented in every major category where they are eligible for the 2020 ACM Awards, including Entertainer of the Year, with Carrie landing a nod, and Album of the Year, with Maren and Miranda garnering nominations.

The awards have faced criticism in years past for their failure to include major female country artists in top categories, with last year's host Reba McEntire commenting of the past disparities: "It doesn't make me very happy because we've got some very talented women out there who are working their butts off."

There were also an impressive 25 artists and industry creators who received nominations for the first time, including

country music singers Lauren Alaina and Ashley McBryde.

The nominations were announced on Thursday, with Keith also named as the host of the ceremony, replacing Reba, who helmed last year's prizegiving for the 16th time.

The 55th ACM Awards will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on 5 April.

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