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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, Brantley Gilbert and Hunter Hayes are The Academy of Country Music Awards’ best new artist nominees.

The trio of young country stars was chosen by fans and the academy’s membership and announced in a news release Thursday.

Fan voting in the category opens March 19 at www.voteacm.com and will continue until 8 p.m. EDT, April 1, just before the start of the live awards show.

Each brings a little something different to the debate. Teenager McCreery had a platinum debut this year after winning `Idol,’ Gilbert gained notoriety as a songwriter of Jason Aldean’s hits “My Kinda Party” and “Dirt Road Anthem,” and Hayes was something of a child prodigy.

McCreery will be headlining the Azalea Festival’s Friday night concert at Trask Coliseum.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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