All eyes are on Lainey Wilson, the singer-turned-TV star who, for the second year in a row, is the most nominated artist at the 2023 Country Music Awards, with a record-making nine nominations.
The Louisiana native was hitting the Nashville circuit for years before getting her big break in 2021, with the chart-topping album Sayin' What I'm Thinkin'. Outside of country music, fans may recognize Wilson from her recurring role in Yellowstone, where she plays aspiring musician Abby since the start of the show's fifth season.
Here’s everything you need to know about Wilson’s career and her record-breaking CMA nominations.
What are all the categories Wilson is nominated for this year?
Entertainer of the Year
Female Vocalist of the Year
Album of the Year for Bell Bottom Country
Song of the Year for “Heart Like a Truck”
Music video of the Year for “Wait in the Truck” with HARDY
Single of the Year (two nominations): “Wait in the Truck” with HARDY and “Heart Like a Truck”
Musical event of the Year (two nominations): “Save Me” with Jelly Roll and “Wait in the Truck” with HARDY
Wilson is the first artist in 13 years to land two Single of the Year nominations in the same year.
She's only the third performer have the most nominations in a single year, after Merle Haggard and Miranda Lambert, both of whom received nine nominations in 1970 and 2010, respectively. Alan Jackson currently holds the record with 10 nominations in 2002.
What CMAs has Wilson won in the past?
Wilson also topped the nominations list in 2022, earning the most of any artist that year with six nominations. She ended up taking home two trophies for Best New Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year.
Wilson’s other CMA nominations that year included Album of the Year for Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, Music Video of the Year and Musical Event of the Year for “Never Say Never” and Song of the Year for “Things a Man Oughta Know."
Which awards are Wilson predicted to win?
While Wilson's Bell Bottom Country already won an Academy of Country Music Award in May for Album of the Year, music critics at Billboard are betting that she'll take home CMA awards for Female Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year for “Wait in the Truck” by HARDY, for which she's featured in.
“Wilson seems to be a lock in [the Female Vocalist of the Year] category,” staff writer Jessica Nicholson predicted. “Wilson is the reigning champ in this category, and seemed to be ubiquitous this year, thanks to heavy touring, a trio of songs surging up the charts, awards show appearances and a campaign with Wrangler."
Meanwhile, Country Universe say Wilson is a sure-winner for Album of the Year: “Lainey Wilson’s the one to beat,” critics wrote, noting that they expect her to “repeat her ACM victory at the CMA Awards.”
Rising up the country music charts
Wilson began writing music as a child and moved to Nashville in 2011 after graduating high school. In 2014, she released a self-titled album and two EPs, followed by her first official studio album, Tougher, which saw moderate success but not at the level of her recent albums.
Wilson rose to prominence after the 2021 release of her second studio album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’. With singles like “Dirty Looks” and “Things a Man Oughta Know,” the latter of which topped the country music charts in Sept. 2021, the album was a massive success and won her Album of the Year at the 2022 CMAs.
She followed up with Bell Bottom Country in 2022. The album won big at the 2023 Academy of Country Music Awards and spawned several hit singles like “Watermelon Sunshine,” “Heart Like a Truck” and “Wait in the Truck,” all of which reached No. 1 on the U.S. country radio charts.
She was cast Yellowstone in 2022 because Taylor Sheridan was a fan
During her years in Nashville, Wilson got the attention of Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan, who featured some of her songs on the show in 2019. He later offered her a small role in the fifth season, which elevated her to new heights.
In fact, as Wilson's manager, Mandelyn Monchick, recently told Washington Post, the exposure from Yellowstone earned attraction from country radio programmers. They started playing her songs more frequently. Soon after, in Aug. 2021, “Things a Man Oughta Know” became her first No. 1 single, making her one of two solo female country artists to top the Billboard airplay chart that year.
Her butt went viral, but she had the last laugh
Wilson went viral on TikTok in January after a video showing her performing in leopard pants unintentionally emphasized her derrière. The video sparked hilarious conversations, including from Wilson herself, and brought in a number of new fans that had never heard of the singer before.
"I can't even scroll on TikTok on my For You page without seeing my fat butt on everything," she said in a Dec. 15 Instagram Reel. "Whatever brings the people in! But I'm just lettin' y'all know, go check out my record Bell Bottom Country. Happy to have you either way. However you found me, I'm happy. Happy you're here!"
She added, "Y'all see what I did with BellBottomCountry? See what I did? We didn't even plan that, but, you know what? The Lord has a way of working things out."
She’s touring Europe and Australia in 2024
Wilson will be touring overseas throughout 2024. Her first show kicks off on March 20 in Melbourne, Australia, and ends in Oslo, Norway on May 3.
Presale tickets for Lainey Wilson: LIVE will be available beginning Nov. 7, with general sales starting on Friday, Nov. 10. at LaineyWilson.com.
The 2023 CMA Awards airs Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct that Wilson is the third performer, not the third woman to net nine CMA Award nominations in a year.