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Hunter Hayes Scores First ACM Nomination

Finds out while on the road with Rascal Flatts.

Word sure travels fast these days. Hunter Hayes ("Storm Warning") was actually doing an interview when the nominations for Academy of Country Music New Artist of the Year were announced on Thursday (Feb. 9). "I was on the phone and I felt it just buzzing out of my hand," Hunter says. "Buzz, buzz, buzz with a bunch of friends and family texting me. It's still hard to believe. It's amazing. It's an honor."

He'll compete in the category with Brantley Gilbert and Scotty McCreery.

Hunter, who will turn 21 later this year and who first gained notoriety when Hank Williams Jr. brought him onstage at age 4, didn't expect an ACM nomination so early in his career. "I don't think it was too soon, but sooner than I expected," he says. "I've been playing music for a long time, but I consider last year and this year to be my first year. I feel like all of my years of playing music have been training for where I am right now.

"I'm going to live it up tonight," Hunter says with a laugh. "We're going to drink an extra pot of coffee in honor of [the nomination]." Hunter is currently touring with Rascal Flatts on the trio's Thaw Out Tour.

Voting for New Artist of the Year will take place at voteacm.com beginning March 19 at 12 noon ET and will continue until 8 p.m. ET on April 1.

Leading up to the ACM Awards, fans can watch interviews and exclusive performances with the three nominees on GAC’s ACM New Artist of the Year special, premiering March 19 at 9 p.m. ET and re-airing multiple times until voting closes on April 1.

The winner of the New Artist of the Year category will be awarded on the 47th Annual ACM Awards broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 1 at 8 p.m. live ET/delayed PT on CBS.

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