Tuesday, October 3, 2000
Nashville, Tenn. Whoever ends up holding trophies at the Country Music Assn. Awards, some things are certain about the ceremony airing Wednesday.
The awards are country music's Oscars ï¿½ the night Nashville tries to show its best side to a national TV audience. (The show airs 7-10 p.m. CDT on CBS.) That means the amiable Vince Gill will charm viewers as the show's host, a role he's filled for nearly a decade.
The industry's biggest stars will perform at the Grand Ole Opry House, including the Dixie Chicks, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw. Shania Twain will make a rare 2000 appearance, presenting the top award for best entertainer. And Charley Pride and Faron Young will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
There's always a little controversy to spice things up. Last year, George Jones boycotted the show because he wasn't allotted enough time to sing an entire song. Jackson, in a gesture of support, sang a snippet of Jones' song.
Barring anything else this year, the Dixie Chicks' planned performance of "Sin Wagon" may kick up a little dust. The song is about getting over a breakup with a little "mattress dancing."
About 6,000 members of the industry nominate and vote for the CMA Awards. Who will win? It's hard to predict. Some cast their ballots for the most deserving nominees. But those who work at record labels tend to vote for their artists, and friends vote for friends.
So with that in mind, here are this writer's predictions in major categories:
Horizon Award (for career progress): Sara Evans, Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley, SHeDaisy, Chely Wright.
Eliminate Evans, SHeDaisy and Wright right off the bat; they have been far outpaced by Paisley and Montgomery Gentry. Unless voters feel Paisley has already gotten too big for this one, he should win it.
Vocal Duo: Bellamy Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, The Kinleys, The Warren Brothers.
Brooks & Dunn have rightly dominated this category for nine years. Only Montgomery Gentry offer much competition to stop them from making it an even decade. It will be Brooks & Dunn one more time.
Vocal Group: Alabama, Asleep at the Wheel, Diamond Rio, Dixie Chicks, Lonestar.
Western Swing stalwarts Asleep at the Wheel certainly deserve more recognition for years of great music. But this one will come down to the Chicks and Lonestar. Look for the Dixie Chicks to win their third in a row.
Male Vocalist: Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, George Strait.
It would be a nice change of pace for Paisley to win since he's the first fresh face in this category in years. Jackson, surprisingly, has never won it. But look for last year's winner, McGraw, to make it two straight.
Female Vocalist: Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Jo Dee Messina, Lee Ann Womack, Trisha Yearwood.
A very strong category, as usual. But Womack, who made her commercial breakthrough with "I Hope You Dance," should win. This is her year.
Song: "Amazed," performed by Lonestar; "Breathe," performed by Faith Hill; "He Didn't Have to Be," performed by Brad Paisley; "I Hope You Dance," performed by Lee Ann Womack; "Murder on Music Row," performed by Alan Jackson and George Strait.
It would be a great ironic moment if "Murder on Music Row" were to win, since it's an indictment of the pop-leaning country music being celebrated at the awards. The industry has sense of humor enough to nominate the song, but don't expect it to win. It's a tight race between "He Didn't Have to Be" and "I Hope You Dance." Winning by a nose: "I Hope You Dance."
Album: "Breathe" by Faith Hill, "Fly" by the Dixie Chicks, "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack, "Under the Influence" by Alan Jackson, "Who Needs Pictures" by Brad Paisley.
No clear frontrunner. "Fly" probably generated the most excitement, but Paisley or Womack could win if voters are in the mood to support new talent. The smart money is on the Dixie Chicks.
Single: "Breathe" by Faith Hill, "Buy Me a Rose" by Kenny Rogers, "He Didn't Have to Be" by Brad Paisley, "How Do You Like Me Now?!" by Toby Keith, "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack.
Another duel between Paisley and Womack, though veteran Rogers may get votes from those who admire his comeback. Womack's "I Hope You Dance" is a classic, and should win.
Entertainer: Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, George Strait.
Shania Twain finally got her due with this top award last year. Now it's the Dixie Chicks' turn. No one is doing as much to bring country music to younger listeners.