Carrie Underwood only has one Grammy nominations this year – Best Country Solo Performance (“Little Toy Guns“) – but that doesn’t necessarily make her an underdog. She’s a powerhouse in performance categories.
This year marks Underwood’s fourth nomination in this category, which was created in 2011 by merging the separate awards for male and female vocalists. She lost that first race to Taylor Swift (“Mean“), but she won in 2012 for “Blown Away” and 2014 for “Something in the Water.”
Before the categories merged, Underwood was dominant, claiming Female Country Performance three years in a row, for “Jesus Take the Wheel” (2006), “Before He Cheats” (2007), and “Last Name” (2008). She also won Best Country Collaboration in 2009 with Randy Travis for “I Told You So.” That’s six performance victories to date for the “American Idol” alum.
Underwood’s biggest threat this year may be Chris Stapleton, this year’s most nominated country artist with four bids, including Album of the Year for “Traveller.” He’s nominated in this category for the first time for the title track from that breakthrough solo album, but he’s been nominated before with the band the SteelDrivers, including Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Blue Side of the Mountain” in 2008. Will his broad support this year translate to a win here against a frequent winner like Underwood?
Stapleton is actually the only artist in this race with any other nominations. Like Underwood, the remaining three artists in this category only contend here, but they include two past Grammy champs.
Keith Urban is nominated here for the second year in a row for “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” and like Underwood he has an impressive track record in performance categories. Before this combined category was created in 2011 he won four times out of six nominations for Best Country Male Vocal.
Lee Ann Womack is nominated for “Chances Are.” This is her first bid in this category, but she was a perennial nominee for Best Country Female Vocal, where she contended six times without a win. But she did prevail once: Best Country Collaboration with Willie Nelson for “Mendocino County Line” in 2002, which is her only win to date.
There’s one newcomer in this race: singer-songwriter Cam for “Burning House” from her major label debut “Welcome to Cam Country,” which was released in March 2015. Can she pull of an upset against her more established rivals?
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Carrie Underwood photo credit: Erik Pendzich/REX