CMA Voters: For Your Consideration

There are a lot of givens on that final CMA ballot. Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban will be nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Alan Jackson will be among the Male Vocalists, Rascal Flatts will Help Me Get My Ex Back Blog be up for Vocal Group. Carrie Underwood is a shoo-in for Single & Horizon nods, and Female Vocalist & Album are also within reach for her. But there are a lot of acts either on the borderline of being nominated or in danger of being completely overlooked. Here are some acts and their work that I believe voters should keep in mind as they’re filling out that second ballot in August.


Gary Allan

  • Male Vocalist of the Year
  • Album of the Year – Tough All Over
  • Single of the Year – “Best I Ever Had”
  • Music Video of the Year – “Best I Ever Had”

Allan has languished in the shadows long enough. After five uniformly excellent albums and strong record sales and radio play, the suicide of his wife led to his phenomenal sixth album, Tough All Over, which was the best country album of 2005. He’s a gifted vocalist, and brought new poignancy to his cover of “Best I Ever Had”, which was one of the year’s most powerful singles. The evocative video captures the waking dream/nightmare world that his version of the song provokes. He is long overdue for some serious recognition.

Dixie Chicks

  • Entertainer of the Year
  • Vocal Group of the Year
  • Single of the Year – “Not Ready To Make Nice”
  • Song of the Year – “Not Ready To Make Nice”
  • Music Video of the Year – “Not Ready To Make Nice”
  • Album of the Year – Taking the Long Way

I fully expect the Chicks to receive zero nominations, but they deserve to be cited in every category that they’re eligible for. Taking the Long Way is far and away the best country album of 2006, and just might be the best album of an already exceptional catalog. Voters may want to punish them for speaking out against the country music industry, but just like she wasn’t bashing America when Natalie criticized the president, the Chicks aren’t attacking country music, or its fans, by criticizing the industry.

If the purpose of the CMA is to acknowledge excellence in the genre, the Chicks should be recognized for putting out the best music of any country act this generation. The Chicks are international superstars, selling records and concert tickets around the world. They are the most entertaining, talented and versatile act working today, and their music is challenging, profound and deeply moving. The CMA should give them their due with nominations across the board.

Kenny Chesney

  • Single of the Year – “Who You’d Be Today”
  • Music Video of the Year – “Who You’d Be Today”
  • Album of the Year – The Road & The Radio

Chesney is a given for an Entertainer nomination, and Album will probably happen, though I’m not as confident on that category. But Chesney put out the best single of his career with “Who You’d Be Today”, and the accompanying music video is one of my three or four favorite music videos of all time, in any genre.

Trisha Yearwood

  • Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Album of the Year – Jasper County

Yearwood came back in a big way this year, with an album that has grown on me with time, after I’d written it off earlier. Trisha belongs back in the category she won in 1997 and 1998. As long as she’s actively recording, she’ll always be one of the five best Female Vocalists the genre has. She’s also the most consistent album artist since Emmylou Harris. In fact, while only two of her albums have been nominated by the CMA (Everybody Knows in 1997 and Where Your Road Leads in 1998), she’s been nominated seven times for Best Country Album at the Grammys – every album she’s released since that category was established has been cited. Jasper County sold well and is artistically solid. The CMA should give it the same respect the Grammys did earlier this year.

Toby Keith

  • Male Vocalist of the Year

Keith was nominated for Entertainer last year but left off of the Male Vocalist list. He belongs in both categories, but Male Vocalist should be where he lands if it’s going to be only one of the two. He’s one of the best male country singers of his generation. Listen to the nuances of his latest single, “A Little Too Late.” He can wrap his voice around a ballad better than almost any guy out there.

Tim McGraw

  • Entertainer of the Year

McGraw’s tour with wife Faith Hill is on track to become the second-biggest country tour in history, right behind the 2003-2004 Up! tour from Shania Twain. The last time they toured together, Tim sang before Faith. The new dynamics were clear this year, when McGraw performed after Faith; right now, he’s the bigger star. In fact, he’s one of the biggest stars of the genre, and is expanding country music’s audience with the bold choices he’s been making musically. He belongs in the Entertainer category.

Faith Hill

  • Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Album of the Year – Fireflies

Hill made the best album of her career with Fireflies. She’s so successful that her talents are actually underrated. Her vocal style has deepened and become more defined. She’s never sounded as convincing doing adult-oriented, mature material as she does now. She has an ear for unconventional material that she can make work as mainstream country music. Embracing the songs of Lori McKenna has elevated her music to a new artistic peak.


That’s enough for today. Later this week, my view on who should be nominated for the Horizon Award, which is promising to be a tough competition this year.

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  1. The problem with the CMAs is that they are very Billboard singles chart-oriented , and don’t even give a thought to Independent recordings. Natalie Maines is a decent vocalist but I could give you the names of five or six Indy-label women who leave her in the dust, including old-timers like Leona Williams and younger singers like Amber Digby and Erin Hay,

    As for the Dixie Chicks – they said they are not interested in being considered Country so the CMA should not insult them by nominating them for awards the they aren’t interested in collecting anyway. The current CD,(Taking the Long Way) really isn’t Country anyway – it’s a fairly decent, but not outstanding pop album with some country flavoring to it. Calling it “far and away the best country album of 2006” is laughable. Jeff Bates, Ferlin Husky, Amber Digby, Rhonda Vincent and Bruce Springsteen have all released better country albums this year (and yes, the new Springsteen album is country).

    The album CMA should go to TOUGH ALL OVER(if the CMA had any balls they’d give it to CHICAGO WIND by the mighty Merle)

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