I’ll admit it, I love country music. Maybe I’m a geek, or maybe country music has started to expand in popularity as it did in ’98-’00 before falling apart again. Things seem to be looking up with the return of favorites like Faith Hill, Shania Twain, and such. These were the key commercial artists that skyrocketed country music sales like never before and they seem to be reverting back to that dynamic standing.
Country Music Awards
The 39th Annual Country Music Association Awards was moved from Nashville for the first time in all of it’s 39 years, presumably to spice up the broadcast, which it did. Taking the reins from 11-time host Vince Gill was the well at ease duo Brooks & Dunn, that’s Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, who kept up the pace and refrained from too much awkward joke-talk. The two were having to much fun, in fact, that after collecting their umpteenth trophy for Duo of the Year, they forgot to present the next performance by the group Sugarland.
Also added were puzzling but refreshing appearances from the likes of Bon Jovi and Elton John. I can see the connection with presenters Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix for the upcoming Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line,” but Elton John? Equally as bizarre was the eerie jazz music loudly reminding speaker’s to wrap it up after a whopping ten seconds. It’s just plain rude.
Most performances were decent, some were awkward. LeAnn Womack sweetly sang her latest “20 Years and Two Husbands Ago” followed by a raucous Big & Rich then Brad Paisley’s touching “Where I Get Where I’m Going.” The ever popular Faith Hill-Tim McGraw routine emerged again for “Like We Never Loved At All” to a rambunctious response. Dolly Parton also made an appearance with Sir Elton John and sang a short verse of the John Lennon classic “Imagine.” Kenny Chesney opened the show with a perky and upbeat performance followed by a grim Sara Evans.
The first award of the night, Single of the Year, went to LeAnn Womack for her latest “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” (produced by longtime friend Byron Gallimore) despite it’s somewhat lackluster performance on the charts. The song award went to Bill Anderson and Jon Randall for the Brad Paisley/Allison Krauss duet “Whiskey Lullaby” while newcomer Gretchen Wilson (and last year’s Horizon winner) rightfully won Female Vocalist following a whirlwind debut. Another newcomer, Dierks Bently, picked up the Horizon award after being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry earlier this year. Media crazed Chesney collected no awards although he was nominated for Male and Entertainer of the Year—both of which went to well-liked Aussie, Keith Urban. Toby Keith was a no show despite winning one award for the “As Good as I Once Was” music video.
The show included the usual tributes and farewells, this time to the recently retired group Alabama and the late Chris Ledoux. Garth Brooks made an unlikely appearance to honor Ledoux in an impromptu performance but said later that this is not a return from retirement.
The broadcast aired Tues. Nov. 15 on CBS and will be re-aired on cable channel CMT periodically throughout the month. For additional details, check your cable listings or visit CMT.com.