ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

CMT Music Awards: Miranda Lambert, Laura Bell Bundy hope for another big night

Musical TheaterCMT Music AwardsElectionsEntertainmentTelevisionKeith UrbanCarrie Underwood

Both women had a big night at the recent Academy of Country Music Awards, and they may be about to share another.

At the April ceremony, Miranda Lambert took three of the top honors -- album ("Revolution"), video ("White Liar") and female vocalist of the year -- while former "Legally Blonde" Broadway star Laura Bell Bundy's energetic performance of her single "Giddy On Up" literally left her breathless. Both will be in the running as Country Music Television presents the fan-voted 2010 CMT Music Awards on Wednesday, June 9.

The flooding that has impacted Nashville is certain to be noted, but celebration will be the main theme as Kid Rock plays host at the city's Bridgestone Arena. Also set to perform at the event (as are Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith and Lady Antebellum), Lambert has much to celebrate: Not only has "White Liar" given her bids for two CMT honors, video and female video of the year, she's newly engaged to fellow country star Blake Shelton.

"It takes a while" to put in perspective, Lambert admits. "I think I'm finally starting to get it and go, 'Oh, my gosh, we're really doing something here.' There's been a really slow, steady build to my career, which has been awesome. I almost feel like I'm ready to enjoy this, but I also feel, 'Wait! It's going too well!' It's a great feeling when you've worked really hard and you start to see it pay off."

Having received such approval from her peers at the ACM Awards, Lambert is looking forward to reuniting with many of them at the CMT Awards. "We're all truly, genuinely happy for each other when we win," she says. "It's great to be honored by your peers, but the awards voted by fans definitely are different. Now that I have more fans, I feel like I really have a shot at these!"

Bundy was up for a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for her Broadway work, which also included "Hairspray," but her CMT nod for breakthrough video of the year for "Giddy On Up" -- which she also co-wrote -- is her first country music nomination.

"I'm super-excited," Bundy says. "There's something very validating about it."

Last month, Bundy helped announce the CMT Music Awards finalists, but she had the male-driven categories. "I saw my name on the teleprompter before (CMT 'Top 20 Countdown' host Evan Farmer) said it, and I had to contain my excitement. Then, when he announced it, I was able to squeal a little."

With her album "Achin' and Shakin' " also getting notice, Kentucky native Bundy is seeing acceptance of her shift from the Great White Way to Nashville. "I'm starting to gain a different fan base than I've ever had before," she says. "(The switch) hasn't been that tough. I feel I'm staying true to myself in this process, and as long as I remain authentic, it's not going to be a struggle."

Also a former Marah on CBS' now-defunct "Guiding Light," Bundy was performing what she calls "y'alternative" country while re-creating Reese Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde" movie role onstage. "I've been able to come back home with a sense of who I am, with more stories to tell, and with lots of experiences that I get to write about (in the music). I think there's a feeling of getting rejuvenated; doing Broadway for eight shows a week, with the character I played, is absolutely exhausting."

As her stature in country music rises, former "Nashville Star" finalist Lambert is determining how to keep using the wild-girl image she cultivated with such hits as "Kerosene" and "Gunpowder & Lead." Her role as an ad pitchwoman for cotton also might play into that; whether wedded life affects it as well remains to be seen, but she's clearly looking forward to her future with fiance Shelton.

"We get to celebrate our careers together, but that doesn't identify who we are," she reflects. "We're really normal people who just go to our farms. The day after the ACM Awards (at which Shelton won for vocal event of the year, in tandem with Trace Adkins), he was on his tractor, and I was planting flowers in the yard. It's good to know that when this all goes away one day, we'll still be happy."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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