NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Jason Aldean usually maintains a fairly steely demeanor, yet country music's hottest new male star admits to being more than a little excited about his three Grammy nominations.
"I'm not usually one to say it's an honor to be nominated because I think that sounds so stupid, but in this case I think it is," Aldean said. "When you look at how important the Grammys are and just how much that award means to an artist, to say you're Grammy nominated is a cool thing. I also think saying you're a Grammy Award-winner is a lot cooler."
Aldean is up for country album of the year for "My Kinda Party," best country solo performance for the hit "Dirt Road Anthem" and best country duo/group performance for "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Kelly Clarkson.
He'll also perform at Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. That will cap a period of growth in Aldean's career that has brought him to the top of the genre. More than a million people attended his first arena tour last year (and he's out on the road again); "My Kinda Party," which won the Country Music Association Award for best album, has exceeded two million in sales; and he has just wrapped up recording his untitled fifth album, which will likely be released late this year.
Aldean says he'll have a few surprises on the new album, just as he did on "Party." Songs like the rap-sung "Anthem" and "Stay" helped expand Aldean's musical palette, and both fans and Grammy voters responded.
"When you're making records, you start trying to outdo yourself and worrying about topping your last album or matching what you did," Aldean said. "I think each record is its own individual thing. They're going to be different in their own ways. For me, I'm kind of a risk taker anyway. A lot of times I'm not even conscious of it."
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