The field of eight ACM New Artist of the Year nominees has been trimmed to three. Fans decided that Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes and Scotty McCreery were the most deserving in a fan-voted poll through GAC-TV.

Hayes and 'American Idol' winner McCreery released their debut albums in 2011 and scored Top 20 singles with 'Storm Warning' and 'I Love You This Big,' respectively. Gilbert reissued his 'Halfway to Heaven' album after signing on to the Valory Music Company roster and landed a No. 1 with 'Country Must Be Country Wide.'

That the winner is also partially decided by fan votes could help out McCreery, who has a healthy fan base that's proven again and again they love casting a ballot for the 'Idol' winner. Industry professionals also weigh in on the award, which will be handed out on April 1.

Voting for the New Artist of the Year winner begins March 19 at 12PM ET at and wraps up on April 1 at 8PM ET. The 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards are broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Thompson Square, JT Hodges, David Nail, Jerrod Niemann and Justin Moore were semifinalists in the the New Artist of the Year category. The polls to determine the finalists closed on Jan. 30. Check out the complete list of 2012 ACM Awards nominees here.

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