The CMA Awards are an extravagant event showcasing the talent of today's top country stars and awarding the up-and-coming musicians soon to dominate one of the country's most popular genres of music. The fact that artists like Chris Stapleton and Kelsea Ballerini are talked about in coveted categories such as Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year alongside mainstay talents Little Big Town and Jason Aldean speaks to the changing state of country music.

Stapleton and Ballerini couldn't represent more different swaths of the genre today. Ballerini, who is nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year, represents a more refined version of the pop country we've come to know over the past decade, with the same catchy instrumentals, but fewer lyrics about the often criticized overused country topics: trucks, dogs, beaches, cheating, beer, etc. She's more inline with the Kacey Musgraves and Maddie & Tae, two groups who have been disrupting the country music scene and challenging the typical clichés of the genre.

The outlaw-guitarist Stapleton is the antithesis of that movement. Along with Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, Stapleton harks back to the lone-traveler country music of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Traveler is Stapleton's debut album and it's landed him a nomination for Male Vocalist of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Album of the Year, going against Aldean, Musgraves, Little Big Town and Kenny Chesney.

It'd be a pretty huge upset if he were to win but it's not going to upend the pop country establishment like some seem to think, and that's not what he's trying to do.

"Do I think I'm striking some kind of blow against the system? No, not at all. Do I think I'm doing what is hopefully authentic to me and things I like to do? Yes," Stapleton said in an interview with Rolling Stone Country. "Mainly, I'm just trying to make music that I like. I had no expectations, and I still don't completely comprehend or understand the events of this morning. But I'm grateful for it."

Ballerini echoed a similar sentiment, sighting the fact that she grew up in East Tennessee but is still a Drake fan and her first show was a Britny Spears concert.

CMAs can show us something about the state of country music. Yes, the genre is becoming more diverse, dynamic and even splintered, but if this morning's nominations show us anything it's that there's room for it all.

Get a taste for the difference between these two nominated artists below with Stapleton's booming voice on "Sometimes I Cry," and Ballerini's pop hit "Love Me Like You Mean It."