Fox411 Country: Kenny Chesney leads ACM nominations, Rascal Flatts singer welcomes baby

The Academy of Country Music held its first ever digital press conference to announce nominees for the 47th Annual ACM Awards show.  Leading the way is Kenny Chesney!  He has nine nominations overall including Entertainer of the Year.

For the fifth year, fans will be able to pick the winner for that one. They’ll be choosing between Chesney, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swift!  Fans also get to vote for “New Artist of the Year.”

Swift earned the most honors for solo female artists with three.  In addition to the coveted Entertainer of the Year title, she’s also up for Female Vocalist of the Year and Video of the Year for “Mean”.

Then representing for the groups, Lady Antebellum earned the most nods in that category with 5, including Vocal Group of the Year.  The 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards air live April 1st on CBS once again for a second consecutive year hosted by Reba and Blake Shelton.

In other news, it was a big week for Rascal Flatts bassist and vocalist Jay DeMarcus and his wife Allison!  They’ve announced they are expecting the birth of their second child this summer.  A young sibling for their daughter Madeline Leigh, who was born December 17th, 2010.

Next we take a look at new music as several artists announce news about their upcoming collections.

On March 27, Lionel Richie fans will get to hear “Tuskegee,” a collection named after his hometown that features 13 of his hits performed as country duets.  Artists who join him in the studio range from the aforementioned Rascal Flatts singing “Dancing On The Ceiling” to Shania Twain on “Endless Love” to Kenny Chesney on “My Love” to Willie Nelson with “Easy” and more!

Carrie Underwood’s upcoming new album is set for release later this spring, but first on February 23rd, the superstar will send out her first single from it “Good Girl” to country radio.

"American Idol" Season 9 finalist Casey James has March 20th marked down for his debut album.  The self-titled freshman effort includes the debut single “Let’s Don’t Call It A Night.”  Maybe he’ll pick that tune to play when he makes his Grand Ole Opry debut! That’s right, it’s just been announced he’ll be taking the stage at the Ryman Auditorium January 27th.

Speaking of former "American Idol" contestants, season 5’s Kellie Pickler who’s found her place in country music, shows folks what’s she’s all about on ‘100 Proof," her third studio album that she calls “the most personal” she’s ever recorded.

“I co-wrote 6 of the songs and even the songs I wasn’t a writer on, they’re still a reflection of my life," she said.

Pickler also told us about another project close to her heart these days, for Cat Appreciation Month February she’s designed a special sweater in partnership with Fresh Step with all proceeds going to the ASPCA.

We also catch up with Katherine Heigl on the red carpet for the premiere of her new film “One For The Money”. Heigl directed her husband Josh Kelley’s new music video (and last week’s Fox 411 Country Featured Song of the Week) “Naleigh Moon” and tells us she really hopes to get behind the camera again for more productions.