CMA Awards 2016 performers: Eric Church, Carrie Underwood and more
The Tennessean

The countdown is on for the landmark 50th CMA Awards. With just a few weeks left to go, the association has revealed the first wave of performers. Set to take the stage are Entertainer of the Year nominees Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood (not together), Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, newcomer Maren Morris and show co-host Brad Paisley -- had the exclusive scoop on Monday morning (Oct. 10).

The lineup also includes Kelsea Ballerini, Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood (to perform a medley of iconic duets), Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Jennifer Nettles, Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw.

On the legendary end of the spectrum, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire,  Ricky Skaggs, Charlie Daniels, Randy Travis, Clint Black, Roy Clark, Charley Pride, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Dwight Yoakam, and George Strait are expected to storm the stage. 

The show will also be reaching into the pop world for performers. A cappella group Pentatonix and Elle King are slated to appear.

“These superstars have been an important part of our legacy and have contributed so much to our current success,” said Sarah Trahern, the Country Music Association’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “We are delighted they are going to be part of this important milestone anniversary.”

Underwood, who returns to the host podium for a ninth year running with Paisley, is also up for Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year (for 2015's Storyteller LP) and Vocal Event of the Year (for her contribution to Urban's "The Fighter," off his Ripcord record). Underwood's Storyteller era reads, quite significantly, as a bid to frame her performance and touring in a new light -- coming off the wildly successful Blown Away era, which many perceived as criminally under-awarded -- with the focus even in her music videos on showcasing her diversity. The "Smoke Break" clip centers on her hitch-hiking to a smokey bar to play for an intimate crowd (with guitar in hand); "Church Bells" is a full-on concert video; and her brand new "Dirty Laundry" sequence hits hard for the metaphors and social commentary. In the Entertainer field, Underwood, in addition to Urban, faces off against troubadour Chris Stapleton, mainstay Luke Bryan and comeback kid Garth Brooks.

Other major CMA nominees include Morris -- the upstart is up for Female Vocalist of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for her debut album, Hero, and Single/Song of the Year for the soulful punch, "My Church" -- Stapleton (also up for Male Vocalist, Album for Traveller and Single of the Year for "Nobody to Blame"); Kelsea Ballerini (Female Vocalist, New Artist); Cam (Female Vocalist, Single/Song/Music Video for "Burning House"); and Eric Church (Single/Song/Music Video for "Record Year," Male Vocalist and Album of the Year for Mr Misunderstood). Check out a complete list of nominees here; also takes a stab at predicting winners here.

The 50th CMA Awards are slated for Nov. 2 and will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on ABC at 8/7c. Check your local listings.

Stay tuned to for any and all updates.