Grammy Awards viewers are used to seeing country music artists take a backseat in the awards show's all-genre categories, but at the 2017 awards ceremony, they'll see two rising country stars compete for the all-genre Best New Artist trophy. Both Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris were announced as nominees in that category on Tuesday (Dec. 6) -- the first time in more than a decade that two country acts have been nominated at the same time in the Best New Artist category.

"It's been quite a while," Bill Freimuth, senior vice president of awards at the Recording Academy tells The Boot, recalling the 2001 Grammy Awards, when both Brad Paisley and Shelby Lynne were Best New Artist nominees (Lynne won, besting Paisley as well as Jill Scott, Papa Roach and Sisqo). "But I think, to me, what it's showing is the power of women in country music these days."

Freimuth notes that the same trend is also at play in the Best Country Solo Performance category at the 2017 Grammy Awards: Four of the category's five nominees are women; Keith Urban is the lone male nominated in that category, along with Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Morris and Carrie Underwood.

"I think that's pretty unusual for that Nashville community to put the ladies on top," Freimuth adds, "[but], to me, [it's] a really great thing. They put out some great music [this year]."

When the 2017 Grammy Awards take place in February, Ballerini and Morris will be competing against the Chainsmokers, Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak for Best New Artist. The last country act to win Best New Artist was the Zac Brown Band, who took home the honor at the 2010 Grammy Awards; Underwood was the last female country act to win the trophy, in 2007.

The 59th annual Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. The Late Late Show host James Corden will host the televised ceremony, which will begin at 8PM ET on CBS; the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony will begin at 3:30PM ET and be available to stream online. Further details, including a list of performers, will be announced in the coming weeks.

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