Shane McAnally is the mastermind behind dozens of modern country music's biggest hits, including Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart," Sam Hunt's "Break Up in a Small Town," Keith Urban's "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" and more. In 2017, the tunesmith is nominated multiple times at the ACM Awards: for Song of the Year, for Lambert's single "Vice;" for Songwriter of the Year;" and, perhaps most surprisingly, for Video of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year, both for the "Forever Country" project that he helmed in honor of the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards.

"I was surprised, because it was a project that was initially put together by the CMA, but, at the same time, not surprised, because that is the town we live in -- that is the community of artists that we live in," McAnally tells The Boot. "People lift each other up. It’s not about if you’re ACM or CMA. It really is about working together, and that’s what that project was about: Everybody put their egos aside and showed up for something. We had to schedule, reschedule, move people around. Nobody complained about how much they did or didn’t get to sing. So as surprising as that would be, I guess, when I really think it through, it’s not, because that’s Nashville."

McAnally admits that he's surprised by the nomination for "Vice," too -- not because of the song itself, but because he initially doubted that the tune would ever see the light of day.

"[It] still amazes me that that song got recorded at all," McAnally concedes. "It was an extremely trying and personal day for Miranda when we wrote that song. With every turn, she would sing a line, and I would say, ‘You’re not going to say that,’ and she would say, ‘Watch me.’ And so, she did.

"It’s being recognized and acknowledged because that is what country music is about, is honesty and telling our truths," McAnally adds. "[It's about], instead of hiding from those things, going out there and saying, ‘Look, I’m imperfect. I’m a normal person,’ and hopefully resonat[ing] with everybody else."

However, it's his Songwriter of the Year nod -- which pits McAnally against Ashley Gorley, Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna -- that means the most to McAnally.

"I can't talk much about it without getting emotional," he says. "The list of people that are nominated with me on that are four of my best friends. We say those sort of things, but it’s really true; on any given week, I’ll be writing with all four of them, so I’m just proud of them, of myself."

In addition to his songwriting pursuits, McAnally -- husband to Michael Baum and father to two children -- owns SMACKSongs Publishing and SMACK Management, and he also works as a producer and co-heads Sony's Monument Records. It's enough to make your head spin ... which is just the way McAnally likes it.

"I thrive in a world of chaos. I’ve just learned this about myself in the last couple of years: I feel calmer when it’s crazy, which shows up in a lot of my songs, too," he explains. "I come from a crazy family, a crazy background. It just kind of feels like the more things are swirling around me and the more it feels like I’m not in control, that actually feels settled to me. And so, I’ve stopped shying away from and saying no to things, unless I purely just do not have the time. If I can find the time and I’m inspired by it, I try to make it work.

"This sounds so cliche, but I have a great group of people around me, who really enable me to keep things going by taking care of the details that I don’t like," McAnally adds. "I just want to make music. And so they let me do that."

The 2017 ACM Awards are set to take place in Las Vegas, Nev., on April 2, and air live on CBS beginning at 8PM ET. For the first time ever, the show will take place at T-Mobile Arena; Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will return as co-hosts.

The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about winners, fashion and moments at the 2017 ACM Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to for the latest ACMs headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.

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