Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney have been installed as the leading contenders for this year's Country Music Awards (CMAs).
Singers Brad Paisley and Jennifer Nettles announced the nominees
Paisley has received six nominations including best album, best male vocalist and entertainer of the year.
Chesney and Nicole Kidman's husband Urban are up for four awards each.
But there are no nominations for previous winners The Dixie Chicks or Toby Keith. Both have attracted criticism for their political views.
The Dixie Chicks came under fire in 2003, when singer Natalie Maines said the band were "ashamed" to come from Texas, the same state as President Bush.
Their absence from the nominations comes despite having one of the year's most successful country albums, Taking the Long Way Round.
Peter Cooper, senior music writer for The Tennessean newspaper, told the Reuters news agency there had been a "complete divorce" between the group and the country music community.
"The CMA awards tend to go to people who are successful on country radio and the Dixie Chicks right now are not," he said. "They've not gotten play for this album."
Paisley, Chesney and Urban are all contenders for entertainer of the year - considered the top award - along with the band Rascal Flatts.
Australian-born Urban has won male vocalist of the year for the past two years and is nominated again, along with Chesney, Paisley, Alan Jackson and Dierks Bentley.
Carrie Underwood won American Idol in 2005
Newcomer Carrie Underwood, who shot to fame after winning TV talent show American Idol, scored four nominations, including female vocalist of the year.
She will go up against Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and Gretchen Wilson.
Rock band Bon Jovi are also on the list of nominations - their duet with Jennifer Nettles, Who Says You Can't Go Home, is up for musical event of the year.
The awards will be handed out in Nashville on 9 November.