It was a historic night at ‘The 38th Annual CMA Awards’ as Kenny Chesney picked up his first two CMA Awards with the coveted Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year for When the Sun Goes Down, which was produced by Chesney and Buddy Cannon.
‘I am so proud to be in Country Music,’ Chesney said. ‘I love it with all my heart. I stay up at night thinking about how to make my show better. Thank y’all very much.’ A very interesting footnote to the historical significance of the evening was the show opening photo presentation of blues legend Robert Johnson as Tim McGraw took the stage. Mr. Johnson (1911-1938) was the first musician seen by the television audience on the very day that the Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD was released.
Kicking off the three-hour broadcast on the CBS Television Network was Entertainer of the Year nominee Tim McGraw, who performed the rocking ‘How Bad Do You Want It?’ complete with pyrotechnics. McGraw’s No. 1 hit ‘Live Like You Were Dying,’ a tribute to his late father Tug McGraw, won the CMA Award for Single of the Year.
‘The song came to me around Thanksgiving,’ McGraw said backstage. ‘That’s when we sort of learned that Tug didn’t have a chance. We cut the song three weeks later and it wasn’t sad. It was something special.’
‘Live Like You Were Dying’ also nabbed the Song of the Year Award for songwriters Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman, which was the first CMA Award for the tunesmiths.
‘I want to have Tim McGraw’s baby,’ joked Wiseman. Nichols added, ‘The day Craig and I wrote this song, it started like it was any other day, now its been like no other day.’
‘Country Music’s Biggest Night” hosts Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn picked up their 12th Vocal Duo of the Year Award. The pair sang their upcoming single ‘It’s Getting Better All the Time’ from their Greatest Hits Collection 2.
Even though there were close to 4,000 people in the Grand Ole Opry House and millions more watching at home, Shania Twain had a ‘Party For Two’ with duet partner Billy Currington as they performed their hit from Twain’s Greatest Hits album, released today.
Other collaborations during the broadcast included Alan Jackson with Patty Loveless performing ‘Monday Morning Church’ and Jimmy Buffett with ‘parrotheads’ Clint Black, Chesney, Jackson, Keith and George Strait. Strait also performed his hit ‘I Hate Everything,’ while Chesney waxed nostalgic with ‘I Go Back.’
Martina McBride added another Female Vocalist of the Year Award to her collection, tying Reba McEntire’s record of four. McEntire, who was also nominated in the Female Vocalist category in 2004, still holds the record for most consecutive wins in the category with four (1984-87). McBride performed the poignant ‘God’s Will’ from her RCA Records album Martina.
‘When I was a little girl in Kansas, I had some big dreams,’ McBride said. ‘I don’t think I ever dreamed this big.’
Backstage in the pressroom, McBride was presented with a one-of-a-kind signature necklace from Johnathon Arndt Gallery of Jewels valued at more than $100,000.
Consummate entertainer Keith Urban had the audience singing along with his live-for-the-moment anthem ‘Days Go By.’ A few moments later, Urban picked up his first Male Vocalist of the Year Award.
‘I am so dumbfounded, I don’t know what to say,’ a stunned Urban said. ‘I am so glad my mom and dad are here tonight. I thank Nashville for letting me come and make music because it’s all I ever wanted to do anyway.’
‘Whiskey Lullaby’ picked up two CMA Awards for Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, who performed the hit during the broadcast. The song won the Musical Event and Music Video of the Year Awards.
‘I want to thank Country radio for playing this song,’ said Paisley. ‘It says a lot about our format when they’ll take a chance on a double-suicide drinking song.’
Director Rick Schroder shared the Music Video honor with Paisley and Krauss, making it the first CMA Award for the former ‘NYPD Blue’ and ‘Silver Spoons’ actor.
Horizon Award winner Gretchen Wilson toned down her ‘redneck woman’ persona for the ballad ‘When I Think About Cheatin’,’ which she sang into an antique 1949 Neumann Telefunken M49 microphone.
‘I came here last year and sat way back there in the back and dreamed of standing up here one day,’ said an emotional Wilson said about her Horizon win. ‘I never dreamed it would have happened this soon.’
Rascal Flatts picked up their second consecutive Vocal Group of the Year Award after singing their new single ‘Bless the Broken Road.’
‘We just wanted to be a part of Country Music,’ Rascal Flatts bass player Jay DeMarcus said. ‘This makes all the hard work worthwhile.’
The CMA Awards was a family affair for Toby Keith, who sang ‘Mockingbird,’ the 1974 hit for James Taylor and Carly Simon, with his 17-year-old daughter Krystal. The new single is available on Keith’s album Greatest Hits 2 released today.
Unscrupulous duo Big & Rich lived up to their motto ‘Country Music Without Prejudice,’ performing ‘Rollin’ (The Ballad of Big & Rich)’ with hillbilly rapper Cowboy Troy and Two-Foot Fred, who both appeared in the duo’s video ‘Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy).’
Female Vocalist of the Year nominee Terri Clark, backed by an all-female band, performed her No. 1 hit ‘Girls Lie Too,’ while fellow Female Vocalist nominee Sara Evans offered ‘Suds In The Bucket.’
The Horizon Award nominees made a strong showing, including Dierks Bentley singing ‘How Am I Doin’;’ Julie Roberts performing ‘Break Down Here;’ and Josh Turner offering ‘Long Black Train.’
Vocal Duo of the Year nominee Montgomery Gentry kept the momentum moving upward with their rocking single ‘Gone.’
Guitarist and producer Dann Huff picked up his second Musician of the Year trophy.
Country Music Hall of Fame 2004 inductees Kris Kristofferson and Jim Foglesong were honored during the broadcast. Willie Nelson and Faith Hill saluted Kristofferson, performing ‘For the Good Times’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night,’ respectively. Randy Travis performed ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ before Kristofferson took the stage to sing his hit ‘Me & Bobby McGee’ with Nelson, Hill and Travis. Reba McEntire introduced a taped segment on Foglesong, a former record company executive, highlighting his many achievements in Country Music.
Country Music Hall of Fame member Dolly Parton presented the Entertainer of the Year Award. Earlier in the night, Parton was honored with the CMA International Artist Achievement Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by an artist who contributes to the awareness and development of Country Music outside North America.
Presenters at ‘The 38th Annual CMA Awards’ included Trace Adkins, Lisa Hartman Black, Pat Green, Lonestar, Joe Nichols, Jamie O’Neal, ‘CSI: Miami’ star Emily Procter, LeAnn Rimes, SHeDAISY, Blake Shelton, Phil Vassar and Darryl Worley.
The industry professional members of the Country Music Association vote to determine CMA Awards winners. Balloting is officiated by Deloitte & Touche The
CMA Awards was produced by Walter C. Miller, directed by Paul Miller and scripted by David Wild. The event was broadcast live on the CBS Television Network from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. MJI Programming, a division of Premiere Radio Networks, is the official radio packager of the CMA Awards, which included Red Carpet coverage and a stereo-radio simulcast of the event. American Airlines is the Official Airline of the 2004 CMA Awards.
The Winners of ‘The 38th Annual CMA Awards’ are:
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR : KENNY CHESNEY
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR : KEITH URBAN
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR : MARTINA McBRIDE
HORIZON AWARD : GRETCHEN WILSON
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR : BROOKS & DUNN
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR : RASCAL FLATTS
ALBUM OF THE YEAR : When the Sun Goes Down
(Award to artist and producer)
Produced by BUDDY CANNON / KENNY CHESNEY
SONG OF THE YEAR : ‘Live Like You Were Dying’
(Award to songwriter and primary publisher)
TIM NICHOLS / CRAIG WISEMAN
Warner-Tamerlane/Big Loud Shirt
SINGLE OF THE YEAR : ‘Live Like You Were Dying’
(Award to artist and producer)
Produced by BYRON GALLIMORE / TIM MCGRAW / DARRAN SMITH
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR : ‘Whiskey Lullaby’
(Award to artist and director)
BRAD PAISLEY featuring ALISON KRAUSS
Directed by RICK SCHRODER
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR : ‘Whiskey Lullaby’
BRAD PAISLEY featuring ALISON KRAUSS
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR : DANN HUFF