CMA MIA: High Profile Acts Who Didn’t Make the Cut

It’s as fascinating to ponder those who didn’t win CMA Award nominations this year as those who did. Alan Jackson (with 10 nominations) and Toby Keith (with six) were the big winners. But what about mega-selling Faith Hill and Shania Twain , neither of whom made even the best female vocalist cut?

Granted, Hill and Twain have kept a low profile while working on new albums that are due this fall. But where’s Patty Loveless , who revivified her career and helped mainstream bluegrass with her Mountain Soul album and who more recently headlined the popular Down From the Mountain tour? Tim McGraw , one of country’s most consistently impressive artists, appears in only one category, netting half the vocal event of the year nomination with JoDee Messina.

Platinum-selling SHeDAISY is also missing from the finals, as is Trace Adkins . Similarly off the radar are Trick Pony , Blake Shelton , Cyndi Thomson , Chris Cagle and Jamie O’Neal , all of whom had gold debut albums (most of which spawned No. 1 singles).

With nominees Jackson, Brooks & Dunn , Kenny Chesney , Martina McBride , Lonestar , Brad Paisley , Diamond Rio , Sara Evans , George Jones and Phil Vassar in its various stables, the RCA Label Group dominated the award nominations. Universal’s nominees included George Strait , Lee Ann Womack , Trisha Yearwood , Willie Nelson , Sons of the Desert , Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch (the latter two for their duet on the Down From the Mountain album. Sony boasted the Dixie Chicks , Montgomery Gentry and Travis Tritt , while DreamWorks had Keith and Darryl Worley .

Rounder Records scored two nominations with Alison Krauss, Sugar Hill two with Nickel Creek and Lyric Street two with Rascal Flatts . Curb’s McGraw and Jo Dee Messina nailed down that label’s lone CMA nomination. (The Bellamy Brothers , nominated for vocal duo, recently signed a new contract with Curb, but their first new album for the label was released after the June 30 eligibility deadline.) Capitol Records had to content itself with Garth Brooks ’ half of the vocal event of the year nomination (with Jones). Warner Bros. failed to place any of its artists in this year’s running.

While those who work for record labels may hold individual CMA memberships that entitle them to vote for nominees, it is common practice for the heads of these labels to collect the members’ ballots and vote them as they wish. The same practice holds true with other music-related companies, although some do give their employees the liberty to vote their own preferences.

Vince Gill , another major act who wasn’t nominated this year, hosts the 36th annual CMA Awards show at the Grand Ole Opry House. The Nov. 6 show will be broadcast live by CBS.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to